LAHORE - Local cab owners have lost their businesses after the entry of world class car booking services in the provincial metropolis.

The situation has also turned ugly for hundreds of rent-a-car service runners in various areas of Lahore as the foreign companies are providing top service to citizens against affordable and fixed rates.

The Lahore Transport Company (LTC) despite all its tall claims could not introduce a proper mechanism of fare for city bound rickshaws and cabs paving way to foreign investors to make a strong foothold in the market of more than 10 million people.

Though the cab business could never flourish in the provincial metropolis in past due to multiple reasons, the new taxis received a very positive response from Lahorites, according to Naeema Saeed, the spokesperson for Albayrak which recently launched A-taxi service in Lahore.

Besides Albayrak, Uber - the largest taxi dispatch company in the world - and international car booking service Careem also made their place in Lahore’s market.

These companies are plying almost 300 new cars, each 100, at city routes. The apps of the service providers can be downloaded at cell phones from where a customer can book a taxi for travelling. The cab will reach at customer’s home within minutes at a phone call.

The fare would be charged according to the reading of the meter fixed in the car. A passenger can travel across Lahore for less than 600 rupees in new air-conditioned cars.

Commuters are appreciating the service in a situation when local transport is hardly available at city routes. Among the other reasons behind the liking of new cabs is the charging of unjustified and high fares by the local cab owners and rickshaw drivers from poor commuters.

The fare of the said companies is comparatively low when one compares it with the local cabs or even rickshaws. If a passenger takes a rickshaw from Muslim Town to Ganga Ram Hospital, he/she will have to pay around Rs120 but interestingly same destination could be covered at almost same rate on these new services.

“You make a call and cab will be outside your home. I went to airport from Thoker Niaz Beg in just Rs500 on A-taxi. I was charged Rs700 for the same destination by a local taxi driver only a few days back,” said Muhammad Ehsan, a bakery owner.

The main reason behind the people’s choice to travel through these new cabs is the fixed and affordable rates while the local cab owners were charging passengers “according to the situation”.

“This means if there would be rain and you are in hurry to go somewhere, the taxi or rickshaw owner will demand almost double fare as compared to the routine rates,” explained Ehsan.

Local cabbies told The Nation they are standing almost idle throughout the day, waiting for customers especially since the day the new taxi services started in Lahore. “Now we only get bookings for inter-city travelling. Taxi service within the city never got attraction in past. Lahorites mostly travel through rickshaws or buses but the new cab services took our business completely,” admitted Muhammad Nasir, a taxi owner.

He also admitted the local transporters’ failure to adopt modern trends in car booking service. “The foreign companies have millions of dollars to run their business; how an individual could compete them.”

The local taxi stands in Lahore almost vanished in past two years and the remaining will disappear in next few months due to arrival of world class car services in Lahore. The PML-N government had distributed thousands of yellow cabs in Punjab in past couple of years but they could hardly be seen at taxi stands as the owners use them for their own use only against the condition set by the government before giving them cabs.

Naveed Anwar, who runs a rent-a-car service in Mozang area said: “The ratio of booking came down for few weeks. I used to get booking for cars on daily basis which downs to three or four days in a week now.

An official of the LTC said that the company would soon announce an equal mechanism of fare for rickshaws and taxis. He said the smart meters would be installed in rickshaws and taxis to facilitate commuters to pay fare.