App-cab fares drop after East-West Metro’s Howrah run – ET Auto

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“Before the Metro line was opened, I would earn INR 2,000 a day. These days I sometimes make INR 800 a day. On some days, there is no passenger,” said Vivek Jaiswal, a cab driver.

The impact of East-West Metro’s Howrah Maidan-Esplanade line, which has an interface with the North-South corridor, has hit cabbies at Howrah station. Especially affected are app-cab drivers who said the number of both long-distance customers and those tavelling to the central business district from Howrah station has more than halved on an average since the new Metro line opened on March 15.

“With the most important section of East-West Metro being operational for over one-and-a-half months, our business has been severely hit along the route that the new East-West Metro section passes through. It extends to the North-South line’s route as well because of the interface at Esplanade. Passengers who were paying INR 250 from Howrah station to Esplanade can now travel the distance for INR 10. Our charges from Howrah station to Esplanade have now come down to INR 120 from INR 250,” said Pradeep Sain, an Ola driver at Howrah station.

Ravi Singh, who holds the tender for the parking lot at Howrah station, said, “Before the new Metro line opened, the cabs wouldn’t wait here for long. They would come in and leave at once. There would be long queues of passengers. But now, the cabbies are just resting here all day.” What’s worse is that the parking fee of INR 71 an hour still has to be paid. “Some app-cab companies include the parking fee in the fare. Why should a passenger take an app cab and pay the extra INR 71 parking fee when he can zip to Esplanade station for INR 10 and go either south or north on the North-South line for INR 20 or so?” Singh said.“Before the Metro line was opened, I would earn INR 2,000 a day. These days I sometimes make INR 800 a day. On some days, there is no passenger,” said Vivek Jaiswal, a cab driver.

On an average, the rates have gone down by INR 100, the cabbies said. “During non-rush hours, we used to charge INR 400 from Howrah station to Gariahat. Now, the fare is down to INR 300,” said Amit Das, a cabby.

“Ever since the metro line opened, the dip in passengers has led to lower fares. But that has yet to attract passengers back,” said Purushottam Kalra, who works in an app-cab company. “We pin our hopes on families with lots of luggage. Those with one or two suitcases, even in groups, opt for the Metro,” said Kanailal Shaw, a Yatri Sathi cabbie.

Indranil Banerjee, general secretary of Online App Cab Operators’ Guild, said app-cab operators hope aggregators, like Ola and Uber, will introduce incentives for rides between Howrah and Kolkata to counteract the drop in demand. “Those who come to Kolkata for work used to hire an app cab from the station together. Now, they can just switch from the local train to the Metro and vice-versa. We are unlikely to regain that segment of passengers. It is the customers from the rest of Howrah that we need to woo back,” he said.

  • Published On May 4, 2024 at 02:01 PM IST

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