Mumbai: Kaali peeli app to rub shoulders with Ola, Uber

Taxi unions lock Diwali deadline for mobile app; won’t introduce dynamic pricing like private radio cabs

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Come Diwali, you might be able to book a black-and-yellow cab via a mobile app, just like Ola and Uber. It has been learnt that under the ‘City Taxi Scheme 2015’, the above-mentioned entities have decided to collaborate, with other aggregators, and provide services across Mumbai.

Only new taxis, which are less than four years old, will make the cut
Only new taxis, which are less than four years old, will make the cut

Moreover, taxi unions have been meeting regularly in the last few weeks to formulate an app, which is being developed by a private software firm.

“We are expecting the app to be ready before Diwali, so that it can be launched during the festival. Initially, Cool Cabs and new black-and-yellow taxis will be a part of the scheme,” said A L Quadros, leader of the Mumbai Taximen’s Union.

A run for money
An RTO official, requesting anonymity, said, to ensure that their vehicles compete with those belonging to Ola and Uber, taxi unions have commenced the process of identifying vehicles less than four years old. While 1,000 taxis will initially be part of the scheme, the final count will rest at 4,000 (a standard for all aggregators). 

The vehicles shortlisted will have engines not less than 980 CC. Also, tariff structure for vehicles less than 1,300 CC will remain consistent. Sources in the transport department claimed the fare for bigger taxis is likely to be at par with the fleet/radio cabs.

Besides, unlike other fleet cab aggregators in the scheme, there will be a dedicated call centre for black-and-yellow taxis. This has been done to facilitate commuters who book taxis using the app.

No hidden ‘dynamics’
All those who use fleet/radio cabs are aware of surge or dynamic pricing, wherein the fare goes up by two to five times depending on demand. If the demand for fleet cabs is high, during times like auto, taxi and bus strikes, the fare skyrockets. Commenting on the issue, Malay Kothari, a partner at CWD Tec, developer of the app, said there was no scope for introducing surge or dynamic pricing in the black-and-yellow cab.

Safety first
Commenting on the importance of having an SOS button in the app for black-and-yellow taxis and other fleet cab aggregators, Quadros said, “It has become of paramount importance, considering the rising incidents of atrocities against women. Even our union will be morally responsible,” Quadros.

He added in the policy draft, which will soon be forwarded to the state for final approval, it has been made mandatory for all the app-based aggregators to display helpline numbers of RTO and police in the app. Also, a separate workshop on etiquette will be held for drivers once the app is launched.

For hire
>> AC black-and-yellow cabs or Cool cabs can be booked via app
>> App user must enter start and end points of his/her journey 
>> Location of the hired cab will be conveyed via GPS/GPRS to the users and five of his/her acquaintances 
>> Cab will be equipped with a mobile charger, receipt printer and rooftop ‘for hire’ indicator 
>> Details of the driver and relevant helplines will be mentioned inside the cab

4,000
Maximum number of vehicles allowed per aggregator in the City Taxi Scheme 2015

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