Ola, Uber strike in Mumbai helps Meru cabs strike Gold

Nov 01, 2018, 08:07 IST | Rajendra B. Aklekar

The pioneering radio cab service is back on the streets in full strength as strike enters Day 10

Ola, Uber strike in Mumbai helps Meru cabs strike Gold
Meru's fleet and a screenshot of its app, with a list of available cabs with different fares

As the cab aggregators' strike enters 10th day with no resolution, Meru Cabs, one of the oldest ride-hailing companies, has witnessed a massive jump in the number of its driver partners. Officially registered and verified with state transport department's radio taxi scheme, it is offering a 'good deal' to the drivers, and hence, they are approaching the company in droves. Companies registered under the state transport department comply with the issued rules and regulations — they verify antecedents of drivers, offer driver training services, and all taxis have GPRS tracking facilities. Meru, earlier, had its own 'green' fleet. But after the proliferation of cab aggregators, as the situation and market changed, it made its cabs white, besides allowing driver partners to get their own vehicles, too, and giving them 'Meru' stickers to stick on. The company's checks and multi-layered verification for drivers, however, remain stringent.

New and improved
"Yes, over the last fortnight, we have been witnessing a massive jump in the number of drivers getting enlisted and willing to work with Meru. More than 12,000 driver partners have joined our platform; we are inducting them after due verification," Nilesh Sangoi, CEO of Meru Cabs, told mid-day. "At the same time, we are seeing huge demand from consumers. There is a significant spike in the number of rides booked and app registrations."

Meru's fleet and a screenshot of its app, with a list of available cabs with different fares

Sangoi also talked about a unique patent pending model, called Cab Marketplace, the company has rolled out. Explaining the process, he said it's where a driver can set his rate.
"Once a driver sets a price within the given range, the customer can see prices of all nearby cabs and choose the most suitable one based on price, expected time of arrival, cab model or driver rating. This solves an important grievance of drivers, as no driver will set a price below his cost price (a key issue for those working on other platforms). This is a sustainable way to ensure good prices for customers without doling out discounts and incentives," he added.

Upstaged In Mumbai, Meru, Tab Look To Navi Mumbai And Thane For Solace

How it works
Going into numbers, Sangoi said Meru charges its driver partners 12 per cent commission, as compared to other platforms' 20 per cent. "This makes it more viable for the driver partners, as they take more money home. Meru also provides numerous other benefits to drivers, such as R4-lakh insurance cover," he added. On the driver registration process, a Meru spokesperson said that after receiving a driver's application along with all documents, it is subject to stringent verification. "Only once we cross-check and get satisfactory feedback is he registered with us. The next step is he has to download the app and log in and follow the company's rules," the spokesperson added.

Drivers want to join Meru Cabs, as it’s giving them a 'good deal'
Drivers want to join Meru Cabs, as it’s giving them a 'good deal'

Off roads
The strike entered the 10th day yesterday and is expected to continue on Thursday with a final meeting planned in the afternoon to call off the stir. "When the driver partners wanted a restructuring of the base fare and changes in the waiting time policy, the cab managements sought one more day, as they needed to consult their boards of directors. They will get back to us tomorrow; if we are satisfied, we will call off the strike," a labour union bearer said. Meanwhile, MNS leader Raj Thackeray refused to meet the striking cabbies, saying they should have come to MNS first instead of going to labour unions.

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