Monday, 5 January 2015

Disruption in taxi business

Earlier taxi's used to be rather costly. Auto-rickshaws would be around half the price. So spending a little more time in travel and saving some money was a good option. However, looking at the fare charts of Ola and Taxi For Sure, it seems they are snatching away the market from auto-rickshaw drivers as well as from old taxi services.

Negotiating with auto-rickshaw drivers is a hard-learned skill. However as companies like Ola and Taxi For Sure are gaining market, the skill is becoming useless. The disruption in the market is achieved by use of technology to reduce wait time for taxis as well as customers.

The pain points that these technologies are addressing are:
1. Time spent in negotiation is cut off.
2. Taxi drivers are on an average better behaved than auto-rickshaw drivers.
3. Scheduling pickups is easier.
4. Payment is easy if you have a digital wallet with the taxi service.

Some issues that I face usually in Hyderabad are:
1. The driver does not know Hindi and I don't know Telugu so we are stuck on the communication part.
2. The time shown by these car service apps does not take into account the traffic.
3. The drivers usually don't know how to read maps. They need guidance to reach the pickup point and sometimes take long routes.
4. The mobile phone network is not consistent.

Often I find the driver knows a landmark near him and a landmark near my pickup point and because of language problem, I can't explain to him which way (possible shortcut) to take. So, instead of trying hard to explain, I tell him to start on the route he knows or a general route. Then I start tracking him to find where he is and call him back to tell him what to do.

Disruption in this market space is really a nice improvement. It is beneficial to customers as well as drivers. I hope to see this industry flourish.