With the Assembly elections a year away, Karnataka’s regional party of farmers seems keen on wooing cab drivers.
Backed with seed money of Rs. 2.5 crore from Janata Dal (Secular) State president H.D. Kumaraswamy, cab drivers, who had gone on a protest recently against Ola and Uber, hope to launch their own aggregator platform soon.
With an unlikely ally in the former Chief Minister, the drivers hope to take on the big taxi aggregator companies with their regional variant that will work on the co-operative model.
The new service is expected to be launched within a few weeks with a firm ‘regional’ stamp in its name — like Kadamba or Hoysala. Mr. Kumaraswamy told The Hindu that he is not in favour of the service being named after him.
“We will give seed money of Rs. 2.5 crore and may eventually look at investing additional funds in the future as the drivers will have to compete against multi-national companies,” said Mr. Kumaraswamy.
The app is most likely to be managed by a drivers’ co-operative on a no-profit no-loss basis to ensure maximum earnings for the drivers.
Thousands of drivers approached Mr. Kumaraswamy late last year seeking his support for their demand for government intervention and protection for their earnings. Many of them are from Ramanagaram and Mandya districts, which are JD(S) strongholds.
Result of price war
Ola and Uber have been engaged in a price war. They offered basic fares as low as Rs. 6 per kilometre in the city. Coupled with this, they have hiked commissions that the drivers have to pay to the companies.
These led to widespread resentment among cab drivers who complained of a drop in their earnings, and went on a protest.