In a surprise to many, Kolkata is fast proving to be a promising market for the ‘taxi on call’ business. With the yellow metered cabs being very unreliable, Kolkatans are willing to pay premium for a a sure and easy experience. As per media reports, San Francisco-headquartered Uber has found the Kolkata in Kolkata faster than anywhere in the world.
“We are enjoying a phenomenal ride in Kolkata. We are adding cars and riders at a record pace in Kolkata. Month on month, the growth in terms of rides is the highest internationally,” Varun Mundukur of Uber India told Times of India.
Presently, Uber operates in 280 cities worldwide including Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, Rio, Amsterdam, Dubai, Durban, Hong Kong and Gold Coast. In India, it has operations in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and Kochi apart from Kolkata.
Mundukur said that despite Kolkata having a 45,000 strong fleet of metered taxis, there is a high number of people wanting to avail of a Uber service. “Kolkata has historically had a taxi culture. So we did expect a good response when we launched the service five-and-a-half months ago. But we certainly did not anticipate the kind of volumes that have consistently generated,” he said.
Like Uber, radio taxi service Meru Cabs too is facing high demand in the city with a 100% month on month growth since September 2014, its launch in Kollata. For Meru too, Kolkata is the top market among the 17 cities it operates in. It now has 600 cars running in the city up from 100 in September is targeting 2,500 cars by the middle of this year. “Our focus is on getting more cars into the system so that the rejection due to non-availability of cabs is minimal. We are currently doing 5,000 trips a day but I clearly sense an opportunity for 25,000-30,000 daily trips,” Meru chief executive Siddhartha Pahwa told TOI.
Mega Cabs has been in the city for five years but has found its business growing fast in the past 12 months with a spate of strikes. For the cab company too, the growth in Kolkata has been much faster than metros like Delhi or Bengaluru.
Musafir Namah Bureau