From the past few days, I could hear increasing number of our customers complaining about no parking space near our restaurant. I was like 'Oh, Koramangala has expanded a lot in the past 1 year'. But I also started hearing from people that 'Ola Cabs' have started occupying most of the parking spaces. Then again I was like 'Oh, Ola Cabs must be really expanding'. But these days I don't personally take out my car much, so didn't realize the gravity of the situation. Finally today I experienced the issue myself and was shocked to see the extent to which the problem has grown.
Upon digging further, here is what I learned/heard from around:
- Ola has opened up an office nearby and this is the root cause of this issue
- I heard someone say that apparently Ola does not want to pay rental for empty sites and use them as parking spaces, because it is 'waste of money' and instead they want to use roads as much as possible. I do see them using a nearby site, but maybe it is just not enough for their volume and maybe they are also figuring out the issue.
- I also heard that several complaints have reached police also. And apparently police officers are also tired of trying to solve this issue, because taking the air out of the tires is also not discouraging the cab drivers!!!
- Overall, I don't know how widespread or localized this problem is, when you consider the whole of Bengaluru, but at the moment it is definitely a matter of concern for our restaurant and our customers! But that is just one sided sentiment, and hence I tried to analyze this a little more, dispassionately :-)
Number of cabs in Bengaluru are increasing at tremendous rate - is it good for the customers?
I guess yes, because their rates are extremely competitive (at least for now), the booking/billing process is quite technology enabled, process oriented with good call center facility and they are convenient to travel against adverse weather conditions and pollution. Overall, it is helping improve quality of life for many people and even encouraging some people not to own a vehicle altogether.
In the long run, it is good for the businesses also, no doubt, because customers can roam around with less stress and this will surely boost shopping, eating out etc.
Are the cabs threatening Autorickshaw business?
Maybe, if the cab companies can sustain with current pricing and scale up really big. On the other hand, if technology enables Autorichshaws also to stay united, fair to customers and more, I am sure there would be stiff competition. It is very much possible, if someone works hard & smart in this direction, with a good funding to back the idea.
Are the cabs causing any issues to the public along with convenience?
As explained in the beginning, they seem to be occupying all parking spaces at certain locations, making life extremely frustrating for people around and visiting those areas. The problem is not just for the businesses around but also to residential people around.
Eventually, it is certainly a good thing if lesser number of people prefer to own their own cars and if infrastructure (in this case car!) gets used in a "shared mode", as against sitting idle for most part of the day.
I really wish that Autorickshaws also get technology enabled in a similar way and compete with this new business. Maybe investors behind these cab services themselves might bring this change, who knows?! After all, its very similar and related business, and wasting existing infrastructure is never a good idea if simple changes can make them much more reliable, efficient, attractive and useful.
Buses/Metro, bicycles etc. are definitely better than any of the above, that is a different matter altogether. For now, if private vehicles reduce in number, that it self is a great development.
Eventually where the balance will shift towards, how long it will take and till then who all will be gainers and losers - we have to wait and watch.
Disclaimer: I have nothing against Ola Cabs personally :-)
Some Quick Stats:
At the moment approximate count of various vehicles in Bengaluru:
Two Wheelers: 36 lakhs
Private Cars: 11 lakhs
Autorickshaws: 1.5 lakhs
Cabs: 70 thousand
Buses: 37 thousand
(Excluding several lakhs of vehicles that are registered outside BBMP limits and outside Karnataka altogether)
Lastly, here is an interesting article:
Bengaluru is the first city in South to host more than half-a-crore vehicles. But at what cost? Suchith Kidiyoor surveys how it affects our health, mother nature, and public transport.