“The only benefit I see after the ridesharing services have been introduced is that one can get a car ride instantly and nothing else,” said Khilgaon resident Manik.
The ridesharing services became popular among people in the city due to Dhaka’s consistent troubles in the public transport sector. The government drafted a ‘ridesharing policy’ last year to bring the service under law.
The policy does not fix the fares for private cars used in ridesharing, but asks ridesharing companies to follow the policy on taxicabs to determine the fares. The policy also says that fares for ridesharing services should not exceed taxi cab fares.
There is no mention of motorcycle fares in the policy. This has led to ridesharing companies charging fares for motorcycles however they wish.
According to the taxi cab policy for air-conditioned cabs, Tk 85 will be charged for the first two kilometres, Tk 34 for every additional kilometre travelled and Tk 8.5 for every two minutes of waiting time. In the case of economy taxicabs, Tk 50 will be charged for the first two kilometres, Tk 12 for every kilometre after that and Tk 3 for every two minutes of waiting time.
The fare for CNG run autorickshaws has been fixed at Tk 40 for the first two kilometres and Tk 12 for every kilometre travelled, with a waiting charge of Tk 2 for every two minutes.
But for ridesharing services, the passenger is charged for every minute of riding time.
Obhai on the other hand charges a minimum fare of Tk 100 by taking into calculation the distance covered over the first six kilometres. It means that a passenger has to pay Tk 100 even if they travel a distance of only a kilometre. The service charges Tk 20 for every kilometre travelled but it has no waiting charge.
Uber Premier has its initial fare set at Tk 80 and charges Tk 22 for every kilometre travelled with a waiting charge of Tk 3 for every minute. For UberX the initial fare is Tk 40 with Tk 18 being charged for every kilometre travelled while retaining the same waiting charge as Uber Premier.
Pathao car ride sharing charges Tk 50 as initial fare, Tk 20 for every kilometre travelled and Tk 2.50 for every minute of waiting while Pickme, another ride-sharing company, charges Tk 50 for user requests, Tk 40 as initial fare, Tk 20 for every kilometre travelled and Tk 6 waiting charge for every 2 minutes.
bdnews24.com found differing fares in four different ride sharing apps when it requested rides for the same destination at the same time.
For a bike ride from National Press Club to Gabtoli bus stand, Shohoz Rides showed an estimated fare of Tk 172, Pathao Tk 177, Ubermoto Tk 180, Obhai Tk 205 and Pickme Tk 175.
For car rides, Pathao Car Plus showed Tk 397, UberX 359, Uber Premier Tk 450 and Shohoz Car Tk 360 in estimated fares over the same distance.
At times, the actual fare is much higher than the estimated fare, complained Aklima Chowdhury, an ICDDR,B official.
“Uber showed an estimated fare of Tk 536 from Mohakhali to Mirpur-1 but it turned into Tk 825 by the time I reached my destination. I made the payment and took a snapshot of the receipt but later I found out that the fare changed to Tk 536 again in the trip history section of the app,” she told bdnews24.com.
“The fares have increased recently. I used to travel to Uttara from Khilgaon paying around Tk 400 without any discounts. I cannot go to Uttara now without paying less than Tk 500 even after getting a discount,” he said.
It is not right to increase the fares because of high demands, said Rajibur Rahman, a resident of Kalshi Road in Mirpur.
“The apps show an estimated fare when I send a request but when I see the actual fare it says ‘fare increased due to high demand.’ Why would they demand more money on top of a given rate? I would not usually get an Uber ride when there is a high demand. But why should I pay extra when I do?” he told bdnews24.com.
The company shows details in the voucher if the actual fare is more than the estimated fare but not if the actual fare is less, complained Neyamat Ullah, a resident of Dhanmondi.
“When the trip finishes within the estimated fare limit, they do not provide me with detailed calculations. But when the trip crosses the estimated fare limit, they send me an email containing the details of base fare, distance, time, total bill etc. If there is a bonus, they omit it,” he said.
The companies offer ‘discounts’ initially to attract passengers but reduce it later, said Shubhra Pal from Mohammadpur.
“I haven’t received any discounts in bike rides for the past two weeks and no discounts in car rides for more than two months. I travel between Mohammadpur and Gulshan regularly. Ubermoto and Obhai charge Tk 160 to Tk 165 for this route without discounts. Pathao charges Tk 190 to Tk 200 for the same route. Now I feel that I should use CNG run auto-rickshaw to travel, which at least allows me to sit comfortably,” he said.
The increased fare of ride-sharing companies has led him to switch to auto-rickshaw rides, said Shariful Hasan, chief of BRAC Migration Programme.
“It will be better if the auto-rickshaw follows its metre to determine the fare. Also, the public transport system in the country should be fixed,” he said.
The ridesharing companies determine the fares considering the overall cost, said Quazi Omar Ferdous, chief operating officer in Obhai Solutions.
“We fix the fares considering the fuel, maintenance, cleaning, etc. Also the Obhai platform cost is included in the total fare to maintain the service quality and security of the passengers,” he said.
Uber said that it determines fares according to a ‘varied fare system.’
“This means that the fare paid by the passenger varies according to the demand. Mainly, the estimated distance, time, traffic congestion and demand determine the fare. A dynamic pricing system based on the demand and supply has been introduced to ensure that the driver can offer the ride timely. This may increase the fare a little,” Uber officials said.
bdnews24.com has not received any response on the matter from Pathao or Shohoz after attempts to make contact.
The BRTA has not fixed any fares for the ride-sharing companies but the fares cannot cross taxi cab fares, said BRTA Director Mahbub-e-Rabbani, when bdnews24.com asked him about the discontent among ride-sharing customers.
“The ride sharing companies cannot charge more than the taxi cabs. But they can coordinate the issue through discussion if needed,” he said.