Why Trade Unions Push for Independent Ride-Hailing Apps Amid Discontent with Ola and Uber 

Karnataka Rajya Chalakara Parishath’s K. Somashekar reportedly said that the newly launched Nagara Metered Auto app is an alternative to Ola, Uber, and Rapido. 
Why Trade Unions Push for Independent Ride-Hailing Apps Amid Discontent with Ola and Uber 

Bengaluru is now home to several ride-hailing apps. To add to the list is the Nagara Metered Auto app, another union-backed autorickshaw app. The 'Nagara Metered Auto' driver app was launched on June 10 afternoon by Agnibhu Technologies and Karnataka Rajya Chalakara Parishath (Karnataka State Driver's Council). 

One can access the app via the Google Play Store. Karnataka Rajya Chalakara Parishath’s K. Somashekar, while speaking to Moneycontrol, said that the app is an alternative to Ola, Uber and Rapido. He added that the app is a win-win for drivers and passengers. 

Demand for launching own apps by trade unions 

Trade unions have time and again insisted on launching their own apps, with many of them disappointed with the commission-based revenue models of Ola and Uber. In December last year, the Auto & Taxi Drivers Association of Hyderabad launched a new ride-hailing app called Yaar. One of the founders of Yaari, Hari Prasadh, had said that the app was developed with the belief that the “drivers who power the ride-hailing ecosystem deserve utmost respect, support, and fair compensation.” 

Similarly, this year, the Telangana Gig and Platform Workers Union (TGPWU) launched a "No AC" campaign due to high costs and low per-kilometer rates. The union said that with the AC on and the current fare structure, they cannot meet the costs of running our cabs. Drivers of Uber, Ola, and Rapido struggle to afford running AC cabs, costing Rs 16–18 per km while earning only Rs 10–12 per km, the union added. 

The Federation of All Autorickshaw Drivers Union also suggested that the Tamil Nadu government should launch its own app for the welfare of auto drivers. In November 2022, the ride-hailing service Namma Yatri was launched in Bengaluru. A product of the city's Autorickshaw Drivers' Union, the app is made by Juspay Technologies. D. Rudramurthy, the general secretary of the Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union, mentioned that the app would be an alternative to Ola and Uber. 

Read: How Ola Electric’s IPO Could Trigger More EV Manufacturer Listings in India

Namma Yatri is a no-commission-based app. The app goes by the tagline, “App by the drivers for the people. 100% direct payment to drivers.” The company website says, “There is no commission or middleman. What you pay goes 100% to the driver and his family.” 

Ride-hailing platform Rapido also introduced a subscription-based fee model for auto drivers. Under this model, depending on the city, auto drivers would have to pay an access fee that ranges from Rs 9 to Rs 40 per day. 

Subscription-Based Plans of Ola and Uber 

Following the footsteps of rides such as Namma Yatri and Rapido, Ola and Uber recently decided to offer subscription-based plans for auto drivers. This means that instead of charging a booking fee or commission for every transaction, the apps would charge a fixed daily or weekly fee for the driver partners. This is as per a report by the Economic Times. 

While Ola came up with the subscription-based model in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad for auto drivers, Uber launched the same in cities including Chennai, Kochi, and Visakhapatnam, according to the report. 

Read: Will Uber’s Premium Bus Service Help Boost Public Transportation in Delhi?

Ola and Uber have historically operated on a commission-based business model, in which the platform maintains a portion of each ride's charge as a commission or booking fee and transfers the remaining amount to driver partners. 

Nagara Metered Auto App 

To book a ride, passengers don't need to download the app. They can directly make the booking via the website or by scanning the QR code of the driver. In the future, they can make the bookings through several ONDC players. Further, users will have to only pay the fixed fare set by the government, which is Rs 30 for the first two kilometers and Rs 15 for the subsequent kilometers. Similar to the other apps, this ride-hailing platform would also be subscription-based with no commission. In the first phase, they intend to enroll 1,000 drivers. Someshekhar added, "There will be no surge pricing or commission, though drivers might need to pay a small subscription fee." 

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