App-based service not suited for Goa: cabbies

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NT NETWORK

Panaji

Amidst the ongoing protest by taxi operators in the state, the cab drivers are saying they are against all kinds of app-based cab-hailing services and not only GoaMiles, which is the existing app-based taxi company in the state.

Speaking to this daily on Tuesday, the taxi operators said app-based cabs will not work in Goa, as the state does not have enough business for a full-fledged taxi aggregator service. They said that operating under an app would also result in lower income and loss of freedom and livelihood as witnessed in other states.

Vice president of All Goa Tourist Taxi Association (AGTTA)

Ravindra Vengurlekar said app-based taxi service has been found to be viable only in the coastal belt of the state and not in other areas because of which, he said, most of the Goan cabbies are against such services.  “In the interior regions like Valpoi or Bicholim where there is no return fare, drivers linked to app-based services are at a loss,” he said. 

Other taxi operators said they are against the app-based cabs because the service works on frequency of trips per day and added that many senior taxi drivers in the state will find it difficult to adjust to the harsh conditions of work.

General secretary of AGTTA Prakash Purke pointed out that locals were given taxi permits for self-employment. “Since self-employment was the original purpose of taking up the taxi trade. Joining a taxi app company and becoming an employee makes no sense,” he said.

The taxi operators in the state are on strike since the last five days to protest against GoaMiles, which is an app-based taxi service promoted by Goa Tourism Development Corporation.

The government is trying to persuade the taxi operators to develop their own app service, as it is the future of the transport industry and tourists as well

as the younger generation is comfortable with mobile taxi apps. According to the government, an app-based taxi service would bring down the exorbitant rates charged by taxi operators and also make it easier to book cabs.

According to the taxi operators, they are presently plying on rates notified by the transport department and not charging excessively. They said they are aware of the changing technology and globalisation of the taxi trade but said a conventional taxi aggregator model would not suit the Goan operators. “Taxi aggregators will not be able to give us enough business and will instead eat into our income by way of commission,” said Purke.

According to Vengurlekar, “Local taxi operators would be willing to get onto an app-based service only if they are promised the same rate as they are charging presently.”

The state has 20,092 registered taxis of which 674 are yellow-black cabs parked at the airport, 14,575 with all-India permit and 2,593 Goa tourist taxis, while 2,250 are app-based cabs with GoaMiles.

Against the perception that they are fleecing customers, the local taxi operators are of the opinion that their earnings are actually quite low.