Skip to main content

The Explosion of Ola

I've been using taxis and autos quite a bit lately for my commuting and something I've noticed is a sudden proliferation of Ola autos. Every second or third auto on the streets seems to have an Ola-issue mobile phone and stand. Yesterday, I was in an Ola auto - I hadn't booked using the app or anything, the auto I climbed into just happened to work with Ola - and I started chatting with the driver. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to an Ola taxi guy about the company. Here's what I've pieced together/guessed about the Ola business model from these two conversations.

The first thing I learned was that the cabbies and auto drivers have to pay to join the ranks of Ola drivers. This actually came as something of a surprise to me - I always figured Ola just had extremely deep pockets and hired lots of drivers. The driver pays Ola for the mobile phone, phone stand and a couple of additions to his auto/cab. All the Ola-branded cars you see going around must be paid for separately, once again by the cab driver. 

These Ola phones come completely loaded - they have the Ola app and a data connection pre-installed. However, the driver can't use the phone for anything other than Ola business - if he does, the Ola office immediately locks the phone, and the driver can only have it unlocked on payment of a fine (I keep imagining a nameless, faceless employee grinning malevolently as he locks some poor cabby or auto driver's phone because he tried to do a Google search, but it's probably all computerized now anyway). 

When you push the button on the app requesting a cab, you see a clock on screen. The Ola driver hears a klaxon and sees a message asking him whether or not he wants to pick up a certain fare. The driver's mission (should he choose to accept it) is to call the pick-upee and figure out where exactly they need to be picked up from and then deliver them to their destination. 

The Ola driver does not know whether you will pay in cash or via Ola money until the destination is reached. If you do pay via Ola money, the phone will display a fare of ₹0. Otherwise, the driver will know not to allow the customer to exit the car and escape at a rate of m.p.h until the amount has been payed in full.

Despite their numerous complaints about the stench of alcohol coming off nearly every customer they pick up after about 6 p.m on Saturdays and the long distances they have to drive, the Ola drivers have it pretty good. For every ₹20 you pay, the company pays ₹30. Ola pays more than it's drivers earn by taking from the venture capitalists and giving to the drivers - rather like a corporate Robin Hood. The best Ola drivers make up to ₹90,000 or so per month, which is, I think, not bad at all.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

No Good Place To Do Mutra Visarjan In This Country...

At least, that's what Chatur Ramalingam seems to think. However, many of our fellow Indians seem to disagree with him. According to them, there are nothing BUT places to do mutra visarjan (for all you poor, masochistic folks - ah, I mean, non-movie-going folks - out there, mutra visarjan means urine expulsion). In case you haven't guessed already, we're going to be talking about one of India's most widely criticized and even more widely practiced issues - public urination.

I'm not exactly saying that it's our people's fault - I mean, come on, we have so much urine-related cultural history! Just in the past 50 years, we've had people who've used their urine for everything from watering plants to drinking it (I believe that some people also flush it down their toilets. How wasteful of them). Besides all the historical precedents, however, we also have some more practical reasons for peeing wherever and whenever we feel like.

If you've ever seen a …

Exam Fever

As anyone currently in the twelfth will tell you, with varying levels of dismay, the final exams are right around the corner. Parents everywhere are seizing their children's phones and taking time off from work. Panicked screaming ensues at intervals.


I don't believe there's a person on the planet who genuinely enjoys exam season. Actually, I take that back - there's no one in India who enjoys exam season. Partially, I think this is our own fault. Exams are the most important things in an Indian student's life, so parents seem bent on bottling up all the worry and concern they have about their kid's education and allowing it to spew forth in a torrent of "No more video games!" and "Delete WhatsApp!" commands during the two months surrounding the exams. Small wonder, then, that at 17, I believe the purpose of exams is to seasonally blot the sunshine from otherwise happy lives.

This whole exam fever thing does have some upsides. Okay, one - it…

Riding Away

A couple of weeks ago, I undertook a gargantuan task: I decided to teach my mother to ride a bicycle. Somehow, during her more youthful years, she never found time to pick up that particular skill, and now she is to rectify this deficiency.

My own bicycle is sized for adult males and as such, it's a little big for Mom. In order to enable her to reach the pedals, I walked down to the nearest pedl.in stand and brought her a smaller bicycle. Pedl.in, for those of you who don't know, is a company run by Zoomcar which lets you rent bicycles for a couple of rupees an hour. It's great, because it spared me having to go around the neighbourhood in search of a bicycle that Mom could use.

Once I brought the bicycle home, the real tribulations began - for Mom, that is. I simply stood on the side of the road and took videos of her travails to contribute to the family albums. I don't know how many of you recall the experience of your first bicycle ride. I remember mine with real c…