Hyderabad: Why are cab drivers canceling your ride?

As per Section 178 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 (refusal to ply a contract carriage on hire by a driver), drivers cannot cancel the ride. In fact, it is an offense and they are eligible to face a fine.

By Sumit Jha  Published on  20 Dec 2021 2:16 AM GMT
Hyderabad: Why are cab drivers canceling your ride?

Hyderabad: Malavika Kwatra booked an Uber at 11:30 a.m from Nallagandla to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport to board a flight at 3 p.m. While she waited for the cab, the driver called her and asked where she wanted to go. When she replied "airport" the cab driver hung up and within a minute, canceled the ride.

She booked three more cabs from Uber and all of them either called to ask where she was going or just canceled the ride. She got lucky with the fifth driver who did not cancel the ride and after waiting for around half an hour, she left for the airport.

The same thing happened to Vamsi, a resident of Madhapur. He booked a cab, the driver called to ask where he was going and what was the fare and then promptly canceled the ride. However, a minute later, the cab driver called him back and told him he was willing to take Vamsi to the airport for the same fare but asked him not to book a cab on the app. He said he would pick Vamsi up and the latter agreed.

Many residents have been facing similar problems while booking cabs.

As per Section 178 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 (refusal to ply a contract carriage on hire by a driver), drivers cannot cancel the ride. In fact, it is an offense and they are eligible to face a fine.

But why are cab drivers canceling rides?

The companies don't compensate drivers for the time, effort, and fuel spent in order to reach the pick-up location or for the empty rides back to the city, said Shaik Salauddin, the chairman of the Telangana State Taxi and Drivers Joint Action Committee. After aggregators' commission and fuel costs, longer rides often end up being way more expensive, he added.

"Drivers have to fork out money for petrol, insurance, car repairs, and loan repayments out of their own pockets. The recent hike in petrol prices coupled with Uber and Ola's ever-changing incentive structure means that hourly rates for drivers have fallen drastically compared to pre-pandemic times. The Hyderabad police are penalizing drivers up to Rs. 500 for each ride cancellation," said Shaik Salauddin.

Cancellation after they come to know about the drop/pick-up location?

According to Shaik Salauddin, drivers cancel the rides once they find out about the drop or pick-up location. This happens when the drop/pick-up location is far from where they are currently located or the route has a toll or there is a possibility that the next ride from that area will be far away or the route is congested and they will not be compensated for it. The rising cost of fuel and dipping fare rates force the drivers to take certain decisions which may seem irresponsible and frivolous to the customer but are, at times, a critical choice the driver makes to save time and money.

Cancellation after they come to know about the mode of payment

Ride-sharing companies like Ola and Uber usually pay the drivers their share of the fare at the end of the week. "The drivers are living almost hand to mouth. This has been the situation even before the pandemic. The daily EMIs for their vehicle, rise in fuel prices, low per km rates, and high cost of living in cities have now driven drivers to the edge," said Abdul Nayeem, a cab driver.

Mohammed Fahiuddin, a cab driver, said they need their remuneration to run their household. "When the drivers are cash strapped for the day and multiple rides are only paying through online payment routed through the company app, they tend to skip these rides," said Mohiuddin.

The drivers tell stories of how they start the day with Rs. 500 for fuel and daily expenses and at the end of the day they don't even have enough money to buy vegetables to take back home.

Shaik Salauddin also pointed out that many times the fare of auto and bikes are higher on the app than the cab. "An AC cab for which the drivers pay at least Rs 10 lakh to buy it, and pay EMI every month, on Ola Uber platform, their charges remain lower than auto and bikes," said Shaik Salauddin.

Cancellation of rides to or from the airport

Most airports in the country charge a steep fee for parking commercial vehicles. Quite a few drivers take month-long passes to operate exclusively at the airports. This puts them in competition with drivers who are on the lookout to solicit passengers searching for a ride while wandering around the arrival area.

"Another issue is that the airport is far from the city. The ever-present traffic congestion in the city also poses a problem. Circumstances such as these also deter drivers from accepting rides to and from the airport. At times there is also the issue of excess luggage and the customers refuse to understand the issue of limited luggage space in a certain type of vehicle and insist on "adjusting" to accommodate all their cargo in a single-vehicle," said Telangana Gig and Platform Workers Union.

The Union added, "There is also the issue of the weight of the luggage and the capacity of the vehicle in completing the trip with that amount of load. The cost of fuel and the possibility of penalty and traffic violation tickets for the excess luggage is an issue that the customer refuses to consider."

Due to the limited availability of cabs at RGIA, passengers are seen waiting for their rides.

Many of the drivers have stopped going to RGIA in recent times, due to which there is limited availability of cab. To resolve the issue of shortage, RGIA authorities have now partnered with three more cab service operators CHOIS, 4 Wheels, and Quick Ride have been facilitated to operate from the airport.

"Arranging an adequate number of cabs on their platform is the primary responsibility of cab service providers like Ola and Uber. We have taken up issues with both the service operators and three more cab service operators have been facilitated to operate from the airport. In the past few days, the number of Pushpak bus services to the airport has also increased," said RGIA.

Cancellation of rides at night

Drivers who have been driving the entire day click on the "Go to Home" option available on the app at the end of the day. This feature is somewhat similar for all app-based ride-hailing services. "But the app almost always doesn't provide a trip that falls en route to the drivers' home. Most of the time the trips are so elaborate and protracted that drivers keep canceling rides to get the one that takes them home. Although the drivers at times also cancel rides to shady locations at odd hours as there have been instances where the drivers have been looted on the trip or worse have been killed and their vehicles were stolen," said Shaik Salauddin.

Cancellation due to pets

The drivers said customers who call for rides with a pet tend to leave behind a mess. "They do not consider the problem they are creating not only for the driver but also for the next person who will book a ride. It is not the case for all customers who might book rides to take their pets either for an outing or for a medical emergency but most drivers have complained about unruly pets and even ruder customers," said K Prakash, Telangana Gig and platform workers Union driver.

Large pets such as big dogs that need AC and need to move around tend to leave a foul smell in the vehicle. "The next customer who books the ride would register a complaint about the condition of the vehicle which in turn affects our earnings and probability of getting rides. We have to invest in cleaning and sanitizing the vehicle. There is also the possibility that a customer may be highly allergic to the pet that has taken a ride before. An adverse reaction might trigger a shock for the customer. There are plenty of scenarios where the driver would be held accountable for any and all negative outcomes of transporting animals. This prompts the drivers to reject these rides," said Prakash.

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