Mumbai: Uber vs Rickshaw
I'm currently in Mumbai and have been travelling around the city on an almost daily basis.
I have taken approx 50 journeys with Uber and around 15 via Auto Rickshaw. Here is why Uber wins hands down:
Out of 50 Uber journeys:
Only one driver was given less than a 5 star rating. This is because it seems some Uber drivers do not speak, read or write in English. This is likely due to the fact they are working for the owner of the car or fleet of cars. This particular driver didn't know how to follow the GPS map therefore stopped around 5 times to ask directions and took a few wrong turnings.
For all remaining journeys, pick up time was no more than 15 minutes and the journeys were relatively straight forward and also included waiting times of up to 3 hours, no questions asked.
The prices were arguably comparable to Rickshaws:
A 15km journey via rickshaw racked up a bill of 150 rupees - not to mention the inhalation of dust, gas fumes and god knows what else on the streets of Mumbai.
The same journey via a clean, air-conditioned Uber X (Nissan Sunny) - cost 160 rupees.
The same journey via an Uber Black, or Uber SUV would be around 360 rupees.
Of the 15 Rickshaw Journeys:
I was refused transport 6 times due to:
"There being too much traffic in that direction"
"Rickshaw wasn't starting"
"Not enough gas"
Just a straight "No" followed by driving off - three times
Three times the driver refused to turn on the meter and wanted a fixed price - as there was little choice at the time, I had to accept (in pound sterling, the extra was not a big deal)
Twice the driver refused to hand over change from 100 rupees, claiming he didn't have any. This meant either looking around for change, or giving him the 100 rupees.
One time the driver refused to wait 5 minutes for a return journey - no explanation
The rise of Uber in cities like Mumbai is astonishing yet predictable. But whilst extreme levels of poverty exists, Rickshaw drivers will always have a service to offer. It will be the working and middle class that hurt the Rickshaw trade, as well as tourists like myself. At the end of the day, they only have themselves, greed and corruption to blame.
That said, riding in a rickshaw is great fun - just cover your mouth!
I've always been a fan of Uber and have used the service around the world. One particular special journey was with my 5 day old son. His first ever car journey from hospital was via an Uber. The driver took extra care, helped with the seatbelts and drove around or very slowly over potholes and uneven surfaces. Here is his first journey: