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Uber starts auto rickshaws service in India; allows cash payments

Uber launched an auto-rickshaw service in Delhi on
Thursday. Passengers can pay for the auto service by cash, a
first for Uber globally. For cab bookings, Uber passengers will continue
to pay electronically.

Uber launched an auto-rickshaw service in Delhi on
Thursday. Passengers can pay for the auto service by cash, a
first for Uber globally. For cab bookings, Uber passengers will continue
to pay electronically.

Finally,
after about four months of deliberations, the Union transport ministry has
decided that there is no case to ban taxi aggregators. It is likely to issue an
advisory to states for these services to be regulated under the Motor Vehicles
Act. 

While Uber and rival Ola offer highly discounted rates
that can nearly match auto rickshaw fares, the three-wheeler is still a
convenient and widely available mode of city transport. Tapping into this
sector would help the cab aggregators considerably widen their user base.

“Autos
is a product that is already commonly used by Indians across the market,
there’s no reason for us not to provide that option and not make it more convenient,”
Gagan Bhatia, GM of Uber in Delhi told the Economic Times. Also, Bhatia added, “there
are people who only want a cash-based product, and there is no reason to keep them
out of the Uber experience.”


How it
works is that passengers can book an auto through Uber’s mobile app without having
to state the destination, and can pay the regular fare in cash without
additional commissions. Rival Ola charges a fee on auto bookings, and requires
users to give the destination on booking.

Bhatia said in the report that auto rickshaw drivers
who have signed up with Uber have been trained to not refuse any bookings.

For now, uberAUTO
will only be available in Delhi and be priced as per fare rules set by Delhi
authorities, the company said in a statement. Users can rate the auto drivers
on the Uber mobile app, as they do for taxis.

“We’re taking an existing product used by the
masses but making it better by adding Uber quality checks on top of it,”
Bhatia was quoted in the report as saying.

According
to the report, citing industry experts, there
are no government policies governing auto aggregators such as mGaadi and
Autowale, but Delhi plans to introduce guidelines shortly.

“This is a compulsion now to increase the
user base. There is potential customer segment of 1 million in Delhi alone, so
all cab companies would require to enter into this (auto) space sooner or
later,” this expert told the Economic Times. “The purpose is to
upgrade some of the users from auto to taxi segment.”

Uber, which launched in India in mid-2013, has faced substantial
roadblocks in the country. Last year, Uber was forced to comply with the
Reserve Bank of India’s two-factor verification rules, and had to partner with
Paytm to ensure cashless payments.

In December, an Uber driver in Delhi allegedly
raped a passenger, after which the company as well as its main competitors Ola
and TaxiForSure were temporarily banned from operating in the National Capital
Region. The operators,
which run on the marketplace model and do not own any vehicles, have now filed
for radio taxi licences in the capital.

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