Watch out Ola and Uber: This cab-hailing start up by drivers believe they can start profiting in a year's time

It’s a fact universally acknowledged that city commute for urban young Indians have undergone a vast makeover. Thanks to Ola and Uber, getting a cab has been breeze and doesn’t burn a hole in the pocket. However if you are regular to any of these cab services, you would know, some of the chauffeurs often tend to be rude, inattentive to customers and callous. While in some cases, it’s the general habit of chauffeurs, many a times; the driver is doing his duties for last 17 hours or more continuously. And his lack of rest is a major reason for the behaviour.

When these chauffeurs had joined Ola and Uber, they thought that the earnings would be no less than Rs 1 lac, as advertised. While the initial days looked dreamy, some drivers repent of having bought a vehicle and paying the EMI now. The earnings have gone below expectations and now the chauffeurs need to work very hard to make ends meet. The drivers have often protested but to no effect.

And this is where a new cab hailing service Sewa Cabs had come up. Offering a tariff much lower than Ola and Uber, Sewa Cabs is run by drivers’ union in Delhi. The drivers conceived and soft-launched SEWA CAB on the first of May as the cheapest cab service in India with fares starting at just Rs.5 per k.m. Full launch will take place in the first half of July.

Terming its model as ultra-low cost and independent of external funding, this promises to give power back to the drivers and liberate them from Ola and Uber while ensuring reliable, secure and affordable service to passengers. As opposed to 27% commission deducted by others from the driver’s earnings translating into more than Rs.15, 000 per month, Sewa Cab uses a subscription model with a fixed monthly fee of Rs.700. In other words, it will charge just a little over 1% of the driver’s earnings and still stay in black.

This service has also introduced “Street Hail”. One can simply hail a cab on the street and still enjoy fares lower than any other cab operator in the country. More than 100+ drivers are signing up for Sewa Cabs on a daily basis.

Commenting on his views on viability, the founder of Sewa Cabs, Rakesh Agarwal told Business Insider, “Our first step is to make people used to Sewa Cabs. And in a few years, Ola and Uber would be out of completion. Then we would start charging a bit higher tariff. “

Before deciding the fares, we spoke to hundreds of drivers. They all said that the average fare works out to Rs.15 even though the fare advertised by Ola and Uber is Rs.6 per k.m. “In order to compete against them effectively, the drivers unanimously suggested that we keep our fares at par with them,” he added.

Sewa Cabs takes pride in the fact that it is owned and governed by the drivers through a nine member governing body – all of them are cab drivers. Apart from lower commission to be paid to aggregator, the drivers would be trained on various aspects of life. Apart from that drivers would be provided proper guidance on relaxing from days’ work.

While Agarwal himself is quite positive about the endeavour, what made us feel worried is that passenger issues haven’t been taken care of. Speaking to Business Insider, Agarwal said, the customer care will also be by the drivers’ union and this is where it gets worrisome. We have seen how auto-rickshaw unions don’t advice drivers on charging above meter and refusals. And it’s the irate auto rickshaw drivers that have buoyed cab hailing service in most urban metros. Of the leading cab hailing services, most of them have a well managed social media response team with whom you can get in touch at any point of the day over most major issues. Moreover, it’s not always a cheap mode of transport. Women in Indian urban cities alarmed by rise in the incidents of women harassment look for a reliable mode of conveyance. While autos hardly go by meter, it’s cab they trust upon, which again have precedence of not-so-decent treatment to women. Sewa Cabs could have fared really good had they prioritized womens’ safety and not just drivers safety.”

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