This is an aggregate of my experiences using various taxi cab companies over the last couple of years in Bangalore and Delhi (where I’ve lived) and Mumbai (where I’ve visited frequently.) Based on my personal experience (and not public perception), this is how I would rate the cabs:
1. Uber: The Classiest Option
Despite what happened in Delhi, Uber cabs are my favourite. This is why:
- Cheapest – Yes, it is! While the taxi wars are on between Uber and Ola, we the consumers get great discounts. Discounts so good that it makes Uber (mini) cheaper than an auto ride. Don’t believe me? Check out their promotions! For instance, download the Uber app and use the Uber promo code “tanvis42” (no inverted commas) and you’ll get your first ride free (up to Rs
600 Rs 300! May 25, 2015: Back to Rs 600!June 18: down to Rs 250.) That’s pretty awesome! March 4, 2015 update: Uber Go at Rs 7/km and Uber X at Rs 8/km — cheaper than autos! 35 kilometres in Rs 350 — unbelievable!)
- Cleanest (and best condition vehicles) – Uber cabs are very, very clean and tidy. The cars are in very good condition (unlike Ola — which are usually scruffy and worn). And if the driver keeps the vehicle clean, for me it implies he cares about his job and what he’s doing. Automatic bonus points.
- Coolest app – The app is simple and works well. There is an element of coolness associated with everything Uber does (the black colours, the clean cabs, the courteous drivers).
- Safest – Despite Delhi, Uber gives me the most confidence if I were to travel alone as a female anywhere. Sure, I’d still be cautious, but Uber drivers are generally more courteous than other companies I’ve encountered.
- Making payments can be PAYnfull – To use Uber, you have to have a PayTM wallet setup. You cannot use cash because of some RBI regulations with them being a foreign company with bank accounts in foreign lands, la, la, la. I’m bored. The thing is – PayTM is awesome! If you start using it, that is. I was reluctant to use PayTM for the longest time, but when I did, I fell in love with it! Especially for (airtel) mobile recharges. Why do I love it so? Because it works. It works in the quickest and simplest way possible. You have to try it to believe it.
- Update March 1, 2015: Uber Go now at Rs 7/km and Uber X at Rs 8/km in Bangalore. Wow!!
2. Ola: (Sometimes) The Cheapest Option
- Cheap – During Republic Day, Ola was running a promotion which made Ola cabs cheaper than Uber cabs. Unfortunately, that promotion is over. Nonetheless, if you sign up for Ola and use the promo code “7NP2HW” (no inverted commas) you will earn
Rs 100 Rs 50. Not great, but not bad!July 21, 2015: Now get Rs 200 Ola Money by using the promo code.
- Almost as cheap as an auto – I recently travelled 10 kilometers using an air-conditioned, pollution-free Ola cab today. It cost me Rs 155. I returned by auto, swallowing gallons of pollution, taking a slightly longer route (11 kilometers) and it cost me Rs 153. Do the math!
- Rates for Ola Mini = Rs 100 for first 6 kms and after 6 kms Rs 10/km. Sedan = Rs 150 for first 8 kms and then Rs 13/km. Prime = Rs 200 for first 5 kms then Rs 18/km. (Rates are for Bangalore; Delhi & Mumbai rates differ).
- Book an auto – Bangalore has changed. No longer do grumpy auto drivers tell you to go to hell when you ask them to go by meter. No, now they offer to go by meter without a moment’s hesitancy. Why? Because if they say Rs 200 for 2 kilometers, you tell them to go to hell. Of course, while pulling out your phone, opening your Ola/Uber app and booking a taxi or even an auto who will go by meter! Yep, this is real change my friend.
- Easy to pay – Pay using your credit, cash, debit card, however, you want!
- Crappy App – Yeah, the app SUCKS. Big time. Sure, it get’s the job done, but only after spewing thousand errors. You open the app and you get ‘error, error, error’, you find a cab and confirm it (this part works well), and then cab driver calls you for directions (he will never look at the GPS for directions!) and then you try ‘tracking the ride’ and you get ‘error, error, error’, ride ends and you get ‘error, error, error’ and then the next time you open the app you can see how much the last ride costs while giving feedback and dismissing all the accrued ‘errors, errors, errors.’
- Dusty, worn-out taxis in general – yeah, the cabs are usually scruffy, dusty Indicas. Not well maintained at all.
- Made in India – Before Uber achieves world domination, let’s give our Indian crappy app Ola a fighting chance. Call me nationalistic if you have to, but I’m voting for Ola. (I wish they’d kept the cabs a little cleaner though!)
- Ola Auto – We’ve used it a couple of times. While the auto driver accepts the booking promptly, it’s often difficult to explain to him where you are (and it takes time for him to reach your destination). It’s often easier just to get into an empty auto that passes by you. Bonus: no haggling and pay by the meter!
- Ola peak hours surcharge – While Uber also sometimes charges a surcharge, Ola does so without fail during peak hours. Want a cab in the morning or evening? Then be prepared to pay Rs 50 extra so that Ola can ‘make cabs available for you during peak hours.’ This is even if there are 10 cabs waiting idly outside your home. Ridiculousness.
- May 25, 2015 Update: I had my first almost-accident with the most idiotic Ola driver possible last week. The driver drove on the wrong side of the road and drove straight into a lady on a scooter, missing her by an inch. The lady swerved and fell hard on the ground to avoid our idiotic cab. Luckily she was okay, but got up and screamed at the Ola driver and then screamed at me for ‘not telling my driver to drive carefully’. This guy had almost hit another scooterist when taking a u-turn right at the beginning of the journey, sent me flying over a speedbreaker mid-journey, and was a driving liking an idiot throughout. He clearly has had no training — and since I value my life and the life of others, I’ve sworn: Never again Ola!! (Wrote a complaint to Ola, they said sorry, we’ll take it up. But if the accident had been worse, what apology would they have given?)
3. Saavari.com – Car Rentals For Longer Periods
- I used Savaari.com for an 8 hour cross-bengaluru-country marathon and they were awesome. 8 hours, unlimited kilometers, for Rs 1500. They also do trips between cities (like a Banglaore-Chennai return for Rs 7000). They also do airport pickups. Highly recommended. Read my full post on saavari.com here.
- May 2015 update – LOTS of negative reviews by users on Saavari. Read the post above! I just had a lucky day it seems.
4. Easy Cabs – So far so good
- I’ve used Easy Cabs quite a few times to get to and fro from the airport and they’re usually quite dependable.
- Not the cheapest though.
- They’ve also bought Carzonrent.com so you can now self-drives in most major cities! Woah, that’s pretty cool!
5. Mega Cabs – Don’t have much to say
- I’ve used Mega Cabs for a few airport trips. Good, comfortable, and so on. But radio taxis are just ridiculously expensive, so this is usually a last resort.
6. Airport Taxi
- I’m not sure what company this is. I see cabs with the words ‘Airport Taxi’ zipping around the streets of Bangalore quite often. Is it the BIAL official taxi? Or is it a company called Airport Taxi. Not sure! Tell me what it is?
- Update March 1, 2015: It is Meru’s Airport Taxi and I have to say it is very nice for all those unearthly airport drops at 4 in the morning. The drivers are very courteous, well-dressed (uniformed) and the vehicles are well-maintained. It is expensive — costing around Rs 800 for a 35km ride (plus Rs 115 toll I believe). Airport Taxi’s swerve into the closest lane near arrivals in BIAL, which is an added advantage. Sometimes there are long queues from the airport to the city, but an overall reliable option.
7. Meru – Gone to the dog house (But Meru Genie is is magical!)
- Meh, expensive and not worth it.
- What can I say? Meru used to dominate the landscape, but something went wrong. Perhaps it was something in their radio taxi model? They’ve been crushed by Uber and Ola in my eyes. I generally only use Meru when I have an early morning pick up and need to book in advance. Otherwise, I refuse to pay the premium.
- Update: Recently used Meru Genie and it was great! At Rs 10/km it is super affordable and gives competition to the likes of Ola. (Airport drop in Bangalore of a distance of 33 kms worked out to ~Rs 450 without tolls).
8. Taxi (not) For Sure
- I ordered a Taxi For Sure cab once in my life. And what happened? It didn’t show up!!!! Sorry, no second chances. Especially if your name is TAXI FOR SURE! (In any case, since Ola is buying Taxi for Sure, no point reviewing them here.)
- Rs 49 for first 4 kms and then Rs 14/km for hatchback and Rs 16/km for Sedan.
9. Kaala-Peela Mumbai Taxis
- Recent went to Mumbai and I have to say I was unimpressed with both Uber (mostly unavailable) and Ola (I would book, the driver would call to ask where I was going and then say he wouldn’t go, feigning some car trouble excuse). However, the black-and-yellow / kaala-peela taxis of Bombay are pretty good. Since they are quite omnipresent, it’s far easier to hop into one than wait around for an Uber or Ola.
Those are the top 9 best taxi cab companies in India according to me (or at least in Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore).