Friday, May 31, 2013

Some insights on the radio taxi industry

If you have to reach any place in time and/or in style, then taxis far outbeat autos. Besides the comfort(4 wheeler vs 3 wheeler, AC vs ordinary) in cabs, another advantage is their being waterproof, heatproof and having transparent meters and fares vis-a-vis autorickshaws. Having used radio cabs extensively in Bangalore and NCR(less often in Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad), some comments on the same
  1. These fares have an upper regulated limit depending on the city. Many newcomers undercut these tariffs but may not be reliable on timing or availability(may cancel at the last minute)
  2. The industry works on a model where both cab driver and customer pay. The two models are
    1. Drivers drive company owned cabs paying Rs 1000-1500 per shift, and bearing the fuel charges. In turn, they can keep their entire earnings, and get the reservation fee share for the extra distance driven to pickup a fare
    2. Drivers owning their own cabs pay a monthly subscription fee to the cab company, and usually a per pickup success fee. Tying up with one company is not enough, so often a single owner has 2-3 company tieups to ensure greater cab utilization. 
  3. If you are not going for a long distance/airport drop off, then the cab may cancel if they get a better deal elsewhere. Of course, in organized reputed firms like Easy Cabs/Ola Cabs(I will NOT count Meru since it cancelled on me twice, once for an airport trip), drivers are fined if they do not reach 
  4. There are many cab services in NCR which offer headline fares at Rs 10/km. What are the extras are-which make Meru/EasyCabs look cheaper for short distances
    1. Min Billing anywhere from Rs 100-200 per trip
    2. Airconditioning charges extra usually Rs 20-25
    3. Luggage charges extra beyond X  bags
    4. Call Centre reservation charges(since often NO online reservation)
  5. How not to get conned/and save money
    1. Book online where possible, to save on the convenience charge. Create an account to save frequently used destinations. 
    2. Insist on a receipt for toll/tax, often the driver has a monthly pass but will still try and extract charges from you
    3. Use the Google Navigator on to guide the driver in case of confusion on route, else on the per km model, any detours are at YOUR expense
    4. Use the mobile apps where available-they offer discounts(like Ola Cabs 10%) and enable easy tracking of your cabs(i.e Ola Cabs)
    5. Keep adequate change with you for the cab, often the cab will pretend that the credit card machine does not work OR will extract the bill even before you can take out your card. Tell the driver you want to pay by card, and if he plays tactics, complain to the company. It won't help for that trip, but will deter future pranks
  6. How to choose a radio taxi firm
    1. Give patronage to one which services ALL your needs including night time trips/short distances, not just the long trips. That is why Easy Cabs gets my vote vs Meru
    2. Prefer one which allows online tracking of the cab to avoid tension of phoning call centre and tracking the cab progress