Are taxi services really cheap?
We all have seen Ola, Uber, and nearly all taxi service providers offer travel by AC car for as little as Rs. 8/Km. I personally have jumped to this offer and tried to book a cab. But once I got my bill, I felt a bit cheated. Why did I have to pay so much? Is it all a big scheme? Are they spinning lies?
After my research, I have found the answer to be both yes and no. Yes, they do provide rides at low rates, but when you are less likely to need one – like at 3 in the afternoon. And don’t forget they haven’t included the base fare, time cost, and service tax!
Peak hour conveyance comes at a surged price, ranging from 1.2X to 3.9X or whatever their demand-supply algorithm commands. The devil is in the fine print. The taxi service providers want to incentivize drivers in order to get more vehicles in their fleet. However, these incentives weigh heavy on their customers pockets.
I have cursed at autos and kalipeelis and even threatened to file police complaints. It sometimes feels like robbery, especially when travelling late at night, during peak hours, or from the airport. But we queue up for these services, and even swear by some of these taxi service providers. Don’t you think that the RTO should prescribe the fares of these taxi service providers like they do for Kalipeeli and autos?
At the standard 1.2X surge pricing, you would end up paying Rs. 267 for a 15 Km, 45 minute ride (after adding the Rs. 45 base fare, Rs. 1/min of ride and Rs. 8/km and 5.99% service tax). This works up to approximately Rs. 18/Km! Imagine the per kilometer cost at higher surge pricing.
Even with surge pricing, availability is still a big issue. Every morning and evening people from all levels of management can be seen trying to hail an auto or a taxi after not being able to book one on their smartphone.
I have often considered giving someone a lift, but how do I know if it’s safe or vice versa? How many of them would want to ride with a stranger?