The ride-hailing apps such as Ola, Uber, and Meru are not only last-mile connectivity providers for people. The new-age cab-service providers have turned into cash cows for Indian Railways.
According to Rajen Gohain, minister of state for railways, these app-based cabs have contributed about Rs 20.93 crore in Railways revenue through parking charges alone in the financial year ending March 31, 2019.
This offers a big business opportunity for Railways given a large volume of passengers travelling by train. Around twenty million people travel by train every day on an average.
Gohain was responding to a series of questions in the Lok Sabha related to app-based cabs services in Mumbai last month. As per Railways contract, ‘app-based cab’ service providers have been given only space for parking of taxies at the stations, he added. It has allowed permission to park only 10 taxies at any given point of stations.
Railways has also placed complaint book for travellers to check overcharging from passengers by the ride-hailing firms at railway stations, he informed.
In the last two-three years, Railways in many states including Karnataka, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh, among others, has allowed ride-hailing firms to park vehicles outside stations. In Feb last year, app-based cabs were given permission on railway stations in Delhi.
Earlier, it has allowed cab aggregators and radio taxis from April last year in Mumbai. The ministry had outlined plans to provide designated parking spaces for ride-hailing firms in late 2017.
Major ride-hailing firm Ola had signed MoUs with different railway zones to operate in designated stations. Uber also had struck a pact with Eastern Railways.