App-based cab services such as Uber, Ola, Meru are proving to be an asset for the Indian Railways as the cab hailing companies have contributed about INR 20.93 Cr ($3.03 Mn) to railways for FY2018-19. Rajen Gohain, the minister of state for railways revealed this while answering a series of questions in the Lok Sabha on February 13.
The Indian Railways have permitted space at Mumbai Central station for parking of app-based cabs on contract basis in the western railway of Mumbai division. As part of the contract, a demarcated area with a booth for the operation of parking stand is available for the cabs.
He also added that, as a part of the contract, not more than 10 cabs will be allowed to park at any given point of time. Further, the operation and management of the taxi booth will be the sole responsibility of the contractor.
On being asked about regulations to keep check to over or under charging by the cab, the Lok Sabha Minister said that the contract is solely for parking, however, complaint books are available at every station with the station master for the users to register their grievances.
He also clarified that there is no linking of ‘app-based cab’ service with online ticket booking service since Railway is providing parking space only on a contract basis to the ‘app-based cab’ service providers.
Last year, it was reported that the railways were considering a plan to provide parking spaces for app-based cab services within the station premises to help the passengers book their ride easily.
In February 2018, the Delhi railways received permission to have app-based cabs in the station premises. Following the approval, Ola partnered with Northern Railway (Delhi Division) to set up ‘Ola Kiosks’ at five railway stations in Delhi.
In 2017, it was reported that Ola and Uber were setting up booking kiosks at 12 railway stations in Bengaluru after signing an INR 51 Cr ($7.4 Mn) deal with the South Western Railway (Bengaluru Division) for three years.
The Indian railways subsidiary, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is also looking to tap the growing user base via the cab hailing services. Last year in March, it joined hands with Ola. As a part of the deal, users will now be allowed to book cabs from the IRCTC mobile app itself.