Ola and Uber prepare for a messy New Year

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If you thought people drunk and vomited only in America, then you should visit New Delhi, India. New years eve is going to mirror the US phenomenon for multiple car cleaning activities. Uber and Ola's drivers have to be especially alert on the new year evening since revelers can become rowdy as well as messy and it takes all the drivers social skills to navigate through the streets as well as dealing with their inebriated passengers.

There is, however, a cultural difference between the two countries, which will be obvious once you read this article.
Since New Delhi is a jam-packed city with extreme traffic issues, congestion is constant, and on New Year's Eve can become hectic and even dangerous, most drivers try to stay clear of party zones. That might sound weird since party zones are where the action is. However, in New Delhi, the Hauz Khas Village and Gurugram Sector 29 neighborhoods can be notorious for drunk passengers since this is where all the bars and restaurants clump together. In most cases, these passengers do vomit in the car, and that is why the drivers have issues accepting requests in these areas.
Another issue with drunk passengers is their inability to understand basic social skills; one driver complained that a woman he picked up in the Hauz Khas area and took to Faridabad decided to smoke and ignored his protests even though he told her a number of times to stop smoking in the car. The same driver told reporters that he would not drive in that area on New Year’s Eve.

Messy Passengers

While most of the drivers complained about rowdy drunk passengers, their biggest complaint was about the messy passenger. These are customers that vomit and then spread the mess around. These can include children as well as grown-ups, and while drivers to keep vomit bags and cleaning equipment in the car, they cannot immediately accept a ride once the dirty one is over. They have to clean the car or end the shift, which will be a problem on a busy night such as New Year’s Eve.


One driver stated that he did not accept drunk passengers, he cancels the ride if the passenger is drunk. This is my car, he stated, I own it, and I use it for my family. I work part-time for Ola, and I will not ruin my property for some inconsiderate passenger. In fact, in one instance, when a passenger did vomit in his car, he made the passenger clean it up with a rag cloth and water.

The Slave Syndrome

Another driver stated that many passengers think that once they enter the car, they are above the driver, and treat him like a slave. He drove a higher end model and said that what passengers forget is that the driver owns the car, he is not an employee and is not a slave, he is a business owner providing a service.


The main issue that drivers have with messy passengers is not the cleaning, but the ratings that the next passenger will give when entering a smelly dirty car. Even after they manage to clean up the mess, and spray over the smell, the end result is still a bad experience for the following passenger.

Women Riders

While India is notorious for being insensitive to women, drivers do care for them more than men. One driver said that he can always cancel a ride for a drunk man, or even stop the car and tell the passenger to exit the vehicle. He cannot do that for a woman; it would be unethical to leave a woman alone on the side of the street. Women are also more considerate than men and tend to prefer Uber or Ola drivers over taxi cab drivers since on many occasions the taxi drivers were also drunk.

On one occasion a driver told us that a woman’s friend called him up and directed him to the pickup point in Faridabad. The passenger was obviously drunk, but the driver took her home and even called the hostels warden to come and take the woman to her room.

One Way Complaints

One issue that has always been a problem for rideshare drivers were the complaints section. While riders can complain about drivers, drivers get no feedback from their companies when complaining about bad passengers. One Uber Driver summed it up by saying “We are expected to deal with all kinds of problems, its part of the job as far as Uber and Ola are concerned.”

Uber’s Cooperation

Shonali Chakravarty, Uber’s spokesperson in New Delhi, told the press that Uber shares tips and issues with their drivers and tries to prepare them for instances, such as New Year’s Eve. He when on to say that Uber provides a 24/7 helpline and in-app support for drivers and recognize the importance of preparing for New Year's Eve when demand from drivers goes up exponentially.

Point of View

It’s all a matter of perspective. For celebrators, New Years Eve is a time to go wild and enjoy the birthday for a new year. For drivers, it’s a time to be extra careful on the roads and to deal with all kinds of passengers.

Latest Activity: Dec 31, 2017 at 10:16 AM

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