Ola to make tracks offline

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on October 26, 2016

bl26_Ola cab

In talks with Railways to open kiosks at stations

Ola, the cab hailing company, is set to launch offline services cashing in on an increasing trend of marquee online players opening physical stores to expand their reach.

Sources in Ola told BusinessLine that the online cab aggregator is in advanced talks with Indian Railways to open kiosks in stations across 100 cities where it operates.

Ola is already conducting a pilot at the Bengaluru railway station.

The entire service, which will be rolled out in a few months, is expected to earn the Railways revenues of ₹200-300 crore annually. For Ola, which boasts of half a million cabs in its network, revenues are expected to double over the next few years.

Nearly 22 million passengers travel by train every day and Ola hopes to tap into this traffic to increase its market share, which is at least three times higher than its nearest competitor.

Currently, cab aggregators have a share of 5 per cent of this market.

By opening kiosks in about 100 cities, Ola also expects to connect to another 200 towns and cities.

As per Ola’s initial discussions with the Railways, the company may have to pay royalty or a fee to open kiosks. Passengers can use the offline services to book cabs or auto rickshaws without using the app on their mobile phone. Ola is also looking at setting up designated spots around railways stations to park its cabs.

Sources said Ola might rope in former railway employees to man the kiosks. They will also be offered the option of becoming operators for Ola through cash incentives. “They can either become drivers or fleet operators for Ola which will allow them to become entrepreneurs,” one of the sources said.

Ola does not see the need for heavy investments in this venture.

However, the fresh infusion of funds, which is expected in the next few months, will go into upgrading technology, skill development and building infrastructure.

A senior Railway official said, “the pilot project at the Bangalore City Station has been extremely successful and is proving to be very convenient for citizens.

“We are evaluating taking this to more stations and Ola with its national reach can help with smooth transportation for users.”

Published on October 26, 2016
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