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Uber Launches Cash-Only Rickshaw Service In Indian Capital

An auto-rickshaw in New Delhi. You can use an Uber app in the Indian capital to hail the three-wheeled vehicles.
Manish Swarup
An auto-rickshaw in New Delhi. You can use an Uber app in the Indian capital to hail the three-wheeled vehicles.

Ride-hailing service Uber has launched a new service in the Indian capital of New Delhi — for auto rickshaws, the popular three-wheeled vehicles.

The big difference between UberAuto and the ride-hailing service's other offerings worldwide: You pay the autos, as the vehicles are known in India, only in cash. Fares are set by the state.

"Autos are an iconic and ubiquitous part of the Delhi landscape and we are excited to have them as another option on the Uber platform," Uber said in a statement on its blog.

The city has some 100,000 auto rickshaws on its streets. They are a cheap and convenient way to travel, though residents of the Indian capital — and other Indian cities — often complain about drivers ignoring the actual fares and asking for more.

Riders can use their Uber app to hail the vehicle and, The Wall Street Journal reports, rate drivers. The paper adds:

"Uber's main domestic competitors, ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.'s Ola, already operates a similar service, known as OlaAuto, in six Indian cities, including Delhi. Last month, Ola also gave its auto passengers the option for cashless travel using an online-payment system. Ola charges a 'convenience fee' of 10 rupees, or about 16 cents, on top of the meter fare."

Uber says it won't charge a booking fee.

Uber ran into trouble in India last year following the rape of a female passenger in an Uber taxi. The company added an SOS button to its app in India following the incident.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.