The road continues to look bouncy for the state’s first taxi app with the service facing its share of speed breakers and hurdles, discovers Shoma Patnaik
While a convenient and affordable taxi hailing service is what most Goans want, it remains on the wish list of the people. Taxi app, Goa Miles, is currently in the market since August 2018, but the app it turns out is having a slow run.
Non availability of service is a major problem faced by customers which means that the option of door-to-door convenience offered by Goa Miles is still to be enjoyed by residents. The other problems are of software glitches, mistaken deduction of money, lack of awareness and stiff opposition from local taxi drivers which by far is the biggest challenge as of now.
Although the promoters of the app (see interview) say that the business is growing and set to overcome obstacles, it is clear that, Goa Miles is thousands kilometers away from a respectable share of the flourishing taxi trade in the state. Ground level check reveals, that, there are many in the tourism industry who are skeptical of the app and doubt its ability to stick around in the long term.
Over ninety per cent of taxi drivers in the state are against Goa Miles and actively discouraging of the ones willing to be on board. According to Ravindra Vengurlekar, president, north Goa tourist taxi owners the association (NGTTOA), only few taxi operators who are new to the business and do not have a stand are a part of the app. “A lot of migrants now are a part of the trade. They have joined Goa Miles and no orginal Goan taxi is part of it,” says Vengurlekar with confidence.
From information disclosed by the promoters, one discovers that just 2.6 per cent of the 32,000 licensed taxi operators are part of the app. Taxi owner, Ronny D’Souza (name changed) parked around Delmon Hotel, Panjim, says that, he will never be a part of any government supported app. “I prefer to be my own boss by being the driver of my own car,” says D’Souza.
For most taxi operators like D’Souza it is not paying to be a part of the app. “The rates offered by Goa Miles is low,” says D’Souza, explaining that, the fare for a Caranzalem-Dabolim airport by app is Rs 750 while, he charges anywhere between Rs 800- Rs 850 (non-season). “ In busy season my charge is about Rs 1,100, which means that I lose if I go on app, “he says.
The taxi business in Goa has many operators. Besides the 32,000 registered taxi vehicles there are private taxi operators and not to mention unlicensed operators. The taxi business booms in peak season from tourists, events, weddings, conferences and mega-events. Film shootings are another lucrative avenue for getting passengers.
Yet despite the excess of taxis in the state, the average Goan finds it difficult to hail a cab when in need. The charges are high, inconsistent and depend on the month and time of the day. Taxi charges are totally opaque as they do not operate on meters.
Taxi apps like Ola and Uber in other states have transformed the way passengers use cabs. The booking of a cab is become super easy and cheaper giving huge relief to people.
Goa Miles was launched with much hype and with the support of the government. The GTDC gives the app free mileage by including it in its website. It is time for the pay off.
Goa definitely needs a taxi app. It requires a good app developed by professional people. A good taxi app would be very successful here the reason being the parking problem. Secondly with so much of night life and entertainment, taxi apps are the solution to avoid drinking and driving. The TTAG has been very supportive of taxi apps in the past. I think if there were a good app people would not go in so much for rent-a-bike or rent-a-car. There are huge numbers of rented bikes on road and rent-a-car is become so popular among tourists. Everyone is hiring cars after rent-a-car became legalized.”
Savio Messais, president, TTAG
We have opposed the app because we know it will not work. We have not discouraged our members from being a part of Goa Miles. It is their wish. An operator has no say when he is part of an app. He has to drive whenever there is a call. And in Goa there is no return fare. Secondly there is no shortage of cars. Unlike Mumbai or Bangalore the situation is opposite here. Every hotel has 40-50 cars. Everybody is saying that taxis are expensive. After paying the driver salary, insurance, petrol, repair, etc., only Rs four/ km remains for the operator.
”Ravindra Vengurlekar, president, NGTTOA