Ola has increased the minimum auto charges from Rs. 25 to Rs. 45.

Ola hits speed-breaker with auto-drivers in Chennai unions fight pricingImage for representation/ By User: (WT-shared) Jtesla16 at wts wikivoyage/ Wiki Commons
news Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 19:24

App-based cab and auto-rickshaw aggregator Ola has increased its auto-rickshaw prices in Chennai during the peak hours. Auto-drivers’ associations however claim that only the government has the right to fix prices for auto-rides and private services cannot change prices as they want.

Ola has increased the minimum auto charges from Rs. 25 to Rs. 45 and also increased the convenience charges from Rs. 10 to Rs. 20 during peak hours.

Members of the auto-drivers’ association feel that it is wrong for Ola to increase the rates unilaterally. “Ola does not have any right to change prices on its own. It can only be done by the government. We are charging lesser than them, we are only allowed to take starting charge of Rs. 25 and additional charge of Rs 12 per kilometer,” says Balasubramani, Secretary of the auto and taxi union in Chennai.

Auto-rickshaws in Chennai however regularly overcharge.

Balasubramani also added that due to Ola, auto-drivers have a hard time getting customers. “About 20,000 auto-drivers are working with Ola, what about the rest 50,000? We face difficulty in finding customers,” he said.

Tamil Nadu Auto-Workers’ Federation is planning to file a complaint against Ola. “If we are not allowed to overcharge on our auto rides, then how can Ola increase the charges without government’s order? We will file a complaint to the transport department. If any of us overcharge, our autos are locked up at the transport office, then what about Ola?” asked MS Rajendran, President, Tamil Nadu Auto Workers’ Federation.

The auto and taxi drivers’ association had filed a petition at the Madras High court against Ola for starting a taxi service charging Rs. 6 per kilometre. “The court had asked the company and the government to explain the prices, and accepted that it is unfair to auto-drivers,” said Balasubramani.

Moreover, unions have decided to protest against Ola on August 2 against their pricing. “Ola cab drivers are also joining us in the protest because earlier these drivers were asked to take 15 rides a day and were given bonus, but now, they have been asked to take 10 customers during peak hours to get bonus, which is impossible to do it in Chennai traffic,” said Balasubramani.  

This story was first reported in The Times of India by Karthikeyan Hemalatha.

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