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Taxi operators plan app-based service to counter GoaMiles

Taxi operators plan app-based service to counter GoaMiles

14 May 2019 No comment 21 hits

Abdul Wahab Khan | NT

Panaji: The North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association (NGTTOA), a cab union in the state, is gearing up to launch its own taxi-hailing app through which users will be able to book cabs to counter GoaMiles, a new government-run app-based taxi aggregator.

The association is planning to have a fixed fare structure based on government rates with no surge pricing and no incentives for drivers on the lines of a traditional cab aggregator and completely contradictory to the Ola/Uber and GoaMiles model. However, there will be no option to check the estimated fare on the app.

The association wants to launch the service soon after their taxis are fitted with the automated tracking device with an integrated emergency system and fare meter, which has been made mandatory by the High Court.

Protests by disgruntled taxi drivers over the past few months against unfair practices, poor earnings, slashed incentives and operations by a cab aggregator at lower than government approved fares have forced the association members to think of starting a hailing app with an aim of protecting the interests of the drivers and their livelihood.

According to the taxi union, GoaMiles offers lower fares as compared to the government rates – for example from Calangute to Dabolim airport, the app aggregator charges Rs 960 as against the government rate of Rs 1,200. Similarly from Calangute to Panaji bus stand, the GoaMiles app charges between Rs 365 to Rs 400 when the government fare is Rs 700. This, the association members say, has badly affected their business.

In fact, the union-backed app seems to be basing its strategy on the assumption that local drivers will leave GoaMiles service in favour of the homegrown service. Presently, there are over 29,000 taxis in the state of which GoaMiles claims 1,453 cab operators have joined it.

Infighting among the taxi union members, however, threatens to dampen their ambition to take on GoaMiles because some members are not in favour of launching the app for reasons best known to them. However, the association will soon conduct an executive meeting with its members seeking their response and will try to convince them to support the decision of launching their own app.

Speaking about the objective behind the initiative, vice president of NGTTOA Ravindra Vengurlekar told this daily that “the idea is to remove the misconception among the passengers that taxis are fleecing and to develop trust with them as well as drivers too enjoy the benefits of app-based cab bookings. Our focus would be on service and drivers’ interests. GoaMiles wants to make profits and is not concerned about the drivers’ interests.”

“Most drivers are upset with GoaMiles and they will join us, as we have driver-oriented policies. And with what GoaMiles in the state did to drivers, this will be a lesson for the company. We will soon hold a meeting with our members and convince them about the need for our own app rather than agitating against GoaMiles,” he said.

The association members have claimed that the union was approached by a few service providers for technology, customer care, operations, marketing and other business-related needs but no decision has been arrived at yet.

The app will not charge a commission like GoaMiles but instead charge a fixed monthly or annual maintenance fee. Just like other apps, a passenger will be able to select the category – AC or non-AC – and once a ride is booked, the passenger will receive a one-time password through SMS. The taxi drivers in the vicinity will get an alert and whoever accepts the request first will get to pick the passenger.

Source: Taxi operators plan app-based service to counter GoaMiles

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