All you need to know about Mumbai’s newest cab aggregator

By Elton Gomes

Mumbai is all set to get a new cab service, with the launch of S3 Cabs next week. Ola and Uber might be in for some tough competition as the new cab aggregator aims to adopt a driver-centric approach.

Owned by Sahayadri Smart Safe, S3 cabs is being promoted by Mumbai-based logistics company Bharat Freight Group. Sohel Kazani, director of Sahayadri Smart Safe, told PTI that S3 Cabs already has more than 700 drivers from Ola and Uber even before its launch. The company added it will prioritise drivers in terms of fees and benefits as compared to its competitors.

Here’s what happened

Ola and Uber drivers have been going on indefinite strikes since March. This has not only inconvenienced users, but it has also created uncertainty as to how much the drivers are paid.

Initially, with lesser taxis and a high demand, Uber and Ola drivers expected to earn roughly Rs 1 lakh per month. However, as demand kept increasing, drivers’ salaries decreased, due to which drivers went on strikes and demanded better benefits, accident insurance, and better pay.

Capitalising on this aspect, S3 Cabs will focus on better payments for its drivers. Kazani told PTI, ”The main USP for S3 Cabs is that its drivers will not be charged for the first Rs 1,800 collection every day and collections above this will be charged only at 10 percent, which is just 50 percent of what Uber and Ola charge to their drivers.”

Kazani added that depending on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s availability, the new cab service will be launched anywhere between May 7 and 14.

A crucial aspect for S3 Cabs is that they have the support of transport/cab unions in the city. This could potentially see the revival of the long forgotten taxi unions.

Kazani said that the company had the support of unions, such as the Maharashtra Tourist Permit Taxi Union, Khalsa Group Taxi Union, Swayam Seva Sanstha Taxi Union, Driver Welfare Association, Driver Ekta Group, Tourist Taxi Chalak Malak Sanghatana, and Satsang Gyan Mandal Taxi Union among others.

“In fact, the market opportunity was spotted by these unions themselves and we are only a facilitator,” Kazani told PTI. He added that S3 Cabs will not have surge pricing or pooling features.

Why you should care

In the absence of cab pooling, it remains to be seen whether S3 Cabs might be a big hit. Ola Share registered a growth of 500% in 2017, with Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai amassing the highest number of share rides.

Ola and Uber taxis have been around for a long time and are established cab aggregators in Mumbai. Competing with them will require significant efforts. Previously, cab services like Meru existed, but they were deemed as expensive. S3 Cabs faces some rough competition and will have to offer effective prices to customers to gain popularity.