Bookmycab, which plies 3,800 black-and-yellow cabs in Mumbai, made its Calcutta debut on Thursday with the promise of “reliable and affordable” service.
Owned and operated by Live Minds Solutions, bookmycab has a fleet of 50 AC and non-AC cars. The cars here, unlike those in Mumbai, are private commercial vehicles without taxi permits, which can be booked over the phone (033-41234567), online (www.bookmycab.com) or through the company’s Android app.
The company, which calls itself the first call taxi service in the country, plans to increase the city fleet to 500 by the end of the year. It has been doing trial runs in the city for the past two weeks.
“The response from riders and drivers was amazing, prompting us to launch our service in Calcutta before Delhi or Bangalore. Calcutta, we have found, is more receptive to technology than any other city in India,” said Avinash Gupta, the CEO of LiveMinds Solutions Pvt Ltd.
“At bookmycab, you don’t need a smartphone to book or drive a cab. Though we have an app, we also have an IVRS system through which riders can call and book a cab. Drivers, too, can operate without smartphones,” said Gupta, an IIT Mumbai alumnus.
Someone booking a ride through bookmycab gets details of the car and the driver. The company hopes to reduce the average waiting time for a cab to arrive from 30-45 minutes to 10 minutes with the expansion of its fleet.
There is an option for “quick booking”, too. A user has to enter a pick-up and a drop locations and save the inputs. The next time he/she has to just hit the “Quick Book” option to book a cab.
Advance booking is possible for drops to the airport and railway stations.
The company at the moment offers a fixed fare for its rides. “The fares are fixed through the meters inbuilt in our system. We determine the shortest possible route to your destination and then multiply it with the figure on our fee chart. We do not have any cancellation fee as of now. Though we have started with cash on delivery, we will soon have debit card/credit card payments with the RBI approved two-step authentication,” said Gupta.
Bookmycab started its journey in late-2010 when it applied for a licence from the Maharashtra government, which had launched a taxi scheme. The state transport authority of the Maharashtra government granted the company a licence in the middle of 2012 and commercial operations started in January 2013.
The company uses a combination of black-and-yellow cabs with bookmycab stickers as well as private cars with commercial licences. About 75 per cent of its fleet comprise black-and-yellow cabs. “We have been the leading service provider in Mumbai for one-and-a-half years,” said Gupta.
When asked whether the company had picked Calcutta as their second destination because of persistent taxi troubles in the city, the CEO said: “Many of the dial-a-cab companies were calling themselves national operators without operating in Calcutta. We thought we had to launch here first to be a national player because it is here that people really need a reliable, safe and convenient mode of transport more than anywhere else.” When asked if bookmycab would partner the state government as it had in Maharashtra, Gupta said: “It is for the state government to offer us opportunities.”