After unfortunate event for Indian women in Delhi, and government decision to ban Uber, media is populated with articles that project problems faced by taxi drivers due to ban and more of the drivers and taxi company perspective. After reading A wide new world by Subroto Bagchi, I decided to write this blog to re-emphasize focus on passenger (customer) needs of safety and compliance’s to be adhered by taxi providers.
Here are some articles. Behind the smoke and noise, what’s next for taxi companies, Cab drivers go extra mile to toe the line, post Uber crisis, Delhi rape case: 5 reasons why banning taxi companies may not be a good idea and Ban on Uber Service in India Causes Lenders to Halt Taxi Loans . The government officials acknowledge that ban is not the right step to be taken and accept their unpreparedness resulting to prefer a ban as short term step. Here are pointers to help government to come with guidelines for taxi Company and taxi drivers offering service based on technology.
I acknowledge that these regulations are not in place for traditional taxi companies across India. Today innovation is driven by technology and marketing (reduced price and ads) of taxi companies. Let us realize that the new innovation matters only to 10 to 20% of Indian population that has affordability to travel by cars and the remaining 80% uses public transport and no one innovates for public transport.
Government has expenses to perform compliance checks like background check for the driver and also setup systems to help audit taxi companies. The government also needs to setup corpus to fund service at emergency times. Should the government pay all expenses with tax payer money? Hence we need to acknowledge the government needs money to act on changes coming from new innovation offering convenience for affordable passengers using mobile application and enables cab drivers to earn more money.
Can taxi provider help government to develop new initiative to bring compliance in to space? The taxi provider would develop trust in minds of the passenger by creating the positive experience for passengers. The government needs to ensure that following stakeholder needs are addressed when passenger hires car using technology/mobile.
- Passenger: utilizes the service and pay for the service.
- Consumer Forum: represent all passengers and work for their benefit.
- Cab Driver: offers the service. Assume that car driver is car owner and hence one more stakeholder.
- Car Owner: owns the car and shares the responsibility and profit with drivers. When car is bought by driver, leasing company is owner.
- Taxi Company:enables driver and passenger to connect and complete service. They might use technology for this connection.
- Cellular operator: This entity is involved when the taxi company uses mobile technology to connect them.
- GPS device manufacturer: What is GPS compliance levels for devices to be installed in car for taxi company to allow car and drivers to board on their market place?
- Consumer Technology Expert: A non-IT person cannot understand impact of technology on consumer.
The taxi providers can help the government to setup transport authority as follows
- Committee: To represent all the above 6 stakeholders
- Publish Guidelines to be adhered by stakeholders online. Have mechanism to collect feedback from public and experts prior to guideline’s become approved as policy.
- Taxi Service Compliance Approver approve stakeholders based on adherence to guidelines. The approver can audit the system of the taxi companies on regular basis for compliance.
- Police support to facilitate in areas of emergency and enforce responsibility of stakeholders at times of emergency including insurance
- Taxi Passenger Ombudsman to help aggrieved passengers to get compensation in genuine cases like loss due to service not provided for passenger. The ombudsman can recommend to police for suspension of taxi drivers and also suspension of taxi companies.
- Training department: Drivers need to undergo the training or self-learn, similar to driving license and undergo tests approved by RTO office. The questions shall be in language of driver. The answers need to be recorded and are available for police and taxi companies to access prior to approving the driver.
In addition the taxi companies can also facilitate the transport authority to come with operational guidelines.
- Not involve in areas of price conflicts and Distance conflicts between passenger and driver. The taxi company would get involved here.
- Not involve to fix price per km for pricing for service. The government and oil companies would influence here.
- Help government to collect services taxes and approval fees from stakeholders.
- Collect deposit for emergency fund to support emergency scenarios due to non-compliance.
- Coordinate with police to perform background check of drivers and provide police with the guidelines that taxi company needs to comply.
- Help to collect any overhead charges needed to build system and operations cost for police to support taxi providers.