Anybody who is a regular customer of taxi aggregators Uber or Ola will know that they often ditch them citing “Surge Price”, which means double the taxi fare owing to high demand. While hapless women, children and senior citizens are victims of this policy, no regulator nor any customer-welfare platform took it up against the giants Uber or Ola so far.
But now, owing to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s threat to cancel their permit, the companies have rolled back their commercial strategy for now though it may come true soon any time.
On Monday, the fourth day of odd-even scheme run by Delhi government, passengers were shocked when Uber showed the Surge Price at 500% or 5 times more than the normal fare. For the first time, Indian travellers have realised the US company’s logic when it “regularly does surge pricing when demand outstrips supply”.
Now that the Delhi CM has warned them, they promptly said, “Given the threat of the Delhi government to cancel permits and impound vehicles of our driver partners, we are temporarily suspending surge in Delhi with immediate effect. We hope to work with the government to keep Delhi moving, especially during this time when the citizens need us the most,” said Uber India General Manager (North) Gagan Bhatia.
Surge pricing is one that makes Uber and Ola fleece the customers as much as five to ten times more fare when they cite huge rush from customers to take a taxi ride. So, it belies the purpose of public transport, leave alone demand and supply logic.
Soon after it reached the government, Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai made an appeal to the commuters to register their complaints at 011-42400400 against exorbitant fares charged by the app-based taxi service providers.
But Bhatia retorted adding that there will be no cabs available, indirectly hinting at shortage of taxis on the roads. He said Surge Pricing “maximises the number of trips and minimises the number of people stranded. The drivers have other options as well. In short, without Surge Pricing, there would be no car available when people need it.”
Currently, 92% of the trips in Delhi are plied on regular fares, he said. So, it remains to be seen how the cab aggregators milk the customers. In Bangalore too, Surge Pricing is often resorted to by Ola, which charges double the price whenever there is more demand and less cabs available.