Online cab aggregator Uber has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kempegowda International Airport Bangalore to set up a dedicated parking area and pick up zone for its drivers and passengers. The zone will be called U Zone and Uber will deploy its executives to help passengers find their cars. The company says that all fares from the airport will be Rs 8 per km, regardless of the type of service or cars they choose (i.e. sedans, SUVs etc.).

The fare from the airport will be Rs 180 base + Rs 8 per km + Re 1 per minute + Rs 120 toll. Interestingly, users can select “U Zone” as their location once they land at the Bangalore airport, and reach the U Zone to get into their cabs. In its blog, Uber says that all Uber cabs will be located only in the U Zone. Note that in August last year, the company had restructured its ride fare for pick ups at the Mumbai Domestic (1A and 1B) and International airports (P4 and P6) to include a surcharge of Rs 110.

Ola Zone: Note that last week, Indian competitor Ola also signed an MoU with Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru to set up an ‘Ola Zone’. In the Ola Zone, Ola’s drivers would be able to park their vehicles and its users can get cabs from here.

Like we said last week, Uber’s U Zone doesn’t come as a surprise, given that other aggregators or taxi service providers are likely to follow suit depending on the demand they see for airport trips. While this is definitely a user friendly move, we hope that this will lead to a less violent tussle between online and offline service providers, and also protect drivers from aggressive local taxi operators.

Magicsewa – Airport Authority case: Note that last month, Delhi based online cab aggregator Magic Sewa alleged that Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) were giving ‘preferential treatment’ to taxi operators Easy Cabs, Meru and Mega Taxi at the Delhi airport by waiving the Rs 150 entry fee, while imposing it on other cab operators. The designated zones of cab aggregators are likely to solve this problem to a large extent, depending on the companies’ approach to designated zones at Delhi and other airports.

Recent Uber developments in India:

– Last week, Uber informed the Delhi government that it was ready to cap its fares at rates fixed by the government, giving up its surge pricing model in the city. (Related read: Why surge pricing is only one of Uber’s troubles)

– It also “paused” its UberMOTO bike taxi service in Bangalore to work with the government “to create modern regulations for app-based motorbike services.” Uber plans to re-launch UberMOTO in Bangalore in the future, but does not mention timelines.

– Last month, Uber slashed its fares for its cheapest service UberGo by up to 22% in 10 non-metro cities in the country.

– In March, it shuttered its UberBLACK service in India, keeping it active only in Mumbai.

– In January, Uber expanded UberCOMMUTE, a solution for private car users to offer carpooling options to Bangalore from 7AM to 9PM. This was a follow up to its service in Delhi, which was launched in December 2015.

Also read: Surge times: Why I became an Uber Driver

Our Uber coverage.

Image Credit: Aniruddha Mandke