Yellow cabs on app radar of city boys

Yellow cabs could soon be a tap away, thanks to an app developed by a start-up in the city.

By Anasuya Basu
  • Published 9.04.16

Yellow cabs could soon be a tap away, thanks to an app developed by a start-up in the city.

TYGR, which calls itself an app cab "disaggregator", is connecting yellow and blue-and-white taxis as well as private cabs through an application that would allow a person to hire a cab.

"We did a soft launch in Calcutta about five days ago. We already have 500 cabs with us," said Dipanjan Purkayastha, who founded TYGR along with Aditya Poddar. "We hope to have 5,000 cabs registered with us in the next three months."

Around 6pm on Thursday, no cabs were available in Chandni Chowk on the TYGR app. This could be because of the few cabs registered on the app at present. As the number grows, cabs would be readily available, said Purkayastha who is in talks with all the taxi associations. Calcutta has a taxi fleet of about 30,000.

Purkayastha has sought the help of the state transport department and the CII in his venture to enable regular cabbies to access the app.

He said the app would address the city's huge transport need by providing a platform for the passenger and the cabbie to find each other. "We are just connecting the two. Unlike Uber or Ola or any other aggregator, we are not charging any commission." These cabs will run on government-fixed fares, he said.

At present, the minimum taxi fare is Rs 25 for 2km and thereafter Rs 12.50 for every kilometre.

TYGR plans to generate revenue through app advertisements and by selling third-party data to other platforms.

While the government is helping TYGR develop a supportive ecosystem for the app by providing driver data and information, CII plans to train cabbies in using the app.

What about taxi refusal, the biggest bane of yellow cab passengers?

"It happens because cabbies have their own schemes of where they would go and the route they would take. This is where TYGR steps in. Once the passenger keys in the pick-up point and destination, the app will provide a choice of cabs available within a radius of 1km and their numbers," said Purkayastha. "Once a cabbie accepts the request and picks up the passenger, he swipes and the trip commences."

The passenger can pay by cash or through e-wallet. "The cabs will have various safety features. Rating the cabbie is mandatory. Unless you do so, you cannot return to the home page of the app."

Poddar and Purkayastha say they are confident of not just surviving but making the aggregators "shut shop and flee".

"The price at which they offer rides is not sustainable. Already, they have withdrawn incentives to drivers. When they leave, there will be a huge inventory of vehicles. Our app will help the drivers of those vehicles earn a livelihood," they claimed.

Purkayastha, a techie, returned from the US three years ago to start his own business. Poddar runs a family business of international trading, transport and logistics. Together, they want to help solve the city's transport problem. They also have plans to launch an auto service in Mumbai and taxi services in Mississauga in Canada, Budapest and Barcelona.