A more balanced view
The solution is blowing in the wind. App-based taxis with meters and GPS will change the way Goa sees taxis and everyone will happily go for a ride
The literal meaning of “taken for a ride” is cheated. In Goa, that is happening day in and day out, if you take a taxi, you are going to be taken for a jolly good ride. The worst part is, this happens with the blessings of the administration. The solution is blowing in the wind but the will is missing as votes are more important.
The taxi drivers know that they are on the wrong side of the law. But with political patronage they stand nose to nose with any authority and demand brazenly that they will install GPS meters only if illegal taxis are stopped and hotels and airlines do not charge high fares. This amounts to saying, I as a citizen will follow the laws provided there are no murders in Goa. Can such conditional acceptance of the law of the land be allowed, and should the authorities be mute spectators to such an audacious demand?
There are three types of taxis that operate in Goa, Black and Yellow: Usually found at prepaid stands at airport and stations. That is their domain. The private taxi is next, usually white cars. They operate from home ie anywhere or hotel gate (their turf) or important corner in village or town. The last is the illegal or unauthorised taxi. They are basically private cars on hire. The owners are usually Government servants and this is their extra income. One can now understand the blind eye by officials to this activity.
The taxi trade has to be counseled to realise that they cannot compare themselves to the hotel or airline industry. There is no alternative to taxis, a pity but if there is no public transport the only other options is your own vehicle and it shows in the growing no of registrations.
Hotels, each offers different rooms, amenities and service levels, if one hotel prices itself above its level it will loose customers to another Hotel, in case of airlines many choose not to fly if the fares
are too high.
The average profile of a taxi driver is school drop out and usually it is owner driven. Some owners do have drivers or more than one taxi, but all the drivers move on to becoming owner drivers sooner than later. The taxi business is usually operated from the house or nearby hotel or tinto. Most airport taxis owners are usually from around the area, radius of 10-15 kms. There are a few biggies who have a fleet of cars and they usually do not operate from the airport or station.
Now, with the above profile and collectively having associations based on North and South, one will not expect too much in terms of understanding either business, operating policy or expanding customer base. This lack of knowledge drives the taxi stake holders to the worst possible mediators, the politicians. The politician is usually a long term player, but the term he is considering is his own
re-election. So the focus is on short term decisions which do not need any thinking and definitely will not take the politicians time.
Thought must be given to the following and educating taxi drives about their impact and benefit must be part of the process. First and foremost is to pick low handing fruit, ie illegal operators. That ofcourse is the most difficult as it would mean authorities have to take action against themselves.
The next is the fact that taxi owners/drivers have to embrace technology. Today, there are customers waiting for taxis and taxis waiting for customers and the twain do not meet. Technology can change that and once the taxi trade accepts this, business will explode. But the Government should not wait, they should implement, it is good for taxis and customers. That is the mandate of Governance, see all sides.
This brings us to the root cause, one can argue which comes first, the customer or the price, in this case both have to be addressed simultaneously or it will not work and that is “GPS with meters”. The conventional meters are easy to fiddle with, lower air pressure increases mileage done or the tax can make unnecessary loops. GPS based system cannot be tampered and extra loops can be eliminated.
The Meter, eliminates the need for using the current area wise charts, eg: if there are two passengers headed for Verna, one going to industrial estate (11 km) and other to the Udear spring, (17km), both are charged the same Rs 530/-. While both 48/km or 32/km resp., is exorbitant, it is good for neither the passenger or the driver. For passenger one is paying more and for the driver he is getting less
every time he drives deep into the area. Most times this results in arguments as the driver feels the customer has mentioned a closer destination to get the benefit of a lower fare.
They drive back empty and rashly just to get back into the queue again. Had they been using an “app”, it is possible that there is another passenger who wishes to go to the airport or in that direction, rather than empty and haggling, the driver can first become aware of such a customer and two, because of the meter a fair charge is payable.
The Taxi which is an asset is used more, the price comes down, the reputation goes up and the customers increase. The ordinary Taxi meter with GPS backed by a taxi hailing “app” will change the way Goa sees taxis, everyone will happily go for a ride.