If you’ve watched movies set in New York, then the yellow taxi is a part of some important scene or the other. For instance, in the TV sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, Ranjit the cabbie played a pivotal role in a lot of the gang’s exploits. Every New York movie has a taxi sequence in it and it has somehow gone from public transport to tourist attraction.
For a local, however, a taxi is more than just a thrill ride. A taxi is an easy and convenient way to go from point A to point B. It makes commuting in the big city hassle-free estimator. The advent of the mobile phone app has changed the way in which people use any service. It is now possible to order take away through a phone app and not have to deal with misunderstood orders and a pile of food you don’t want.
As a concept, ridesharing came into being in 2012. San Francisco-based IT companies began testing out apps which helped a person book a ride that would show up rather than having to worry about standing on the curb hailing a taxi and hoping that it will stop.
Ridesharing means that commuters use a phone-based app to book a ride that they will share with other commuters. No two customers will have the same drop location but they will all be travelling to the same part of the city. If a service is fully digital, then they must also be prepared for a digitally enabled generation that won’t let even the smallest error go.Ridesharing cuts costs in a big way and is also a greener way to travel within the city.
A single rideshare taxi serves as a carpool but without the hassle of parking and fuel sharing – a commuter who uses a ride share pays only for the commute and not for anything else.
In the long run, regular use of such services mean that people become more conscious of how they choose to travel as well as with the money spent on carbon-intensive modes of transport.
A ridesharing app, or even an app-based taxi service, relies on one thing – technology. Without the vast network of GPS satellites and the many Maps services available, it would be impossible to operate an app-based service which is reliant on information based in real-time. When a user opens a taxi app, they rely on their internet connection to ensure that they get a ride immediately and are dropped at their destination safely. There have been many reports of female passengers who have been raped and molested by the drivers of these taxi services and it has been extremely tough times for such services. However, people continue to use these services purely for the convenience on offer.
The last year has not been easy for rideshare and taxi app services. There have been many verified complaints of driver misbehavior and companies have had to resort to staff cuts as well as issuing online apologies. The nature of the complaints have led to widespread boycotts and negative social media campaigns. These events have led to the CEO of a leading app-based taxi service stepping down because he had issued statements supporting the errant staff of his company. In smaller countries, other issues have been reported where drivers claim to have reached a location but are nowhere to be found, they then charge the customer a waiting fee and also make it known that they were given the wrong address. A lot of people have come online to discuss such behavior and such posts have met with a lot of support and verifying claims of drivers trying to game the system.
App-based services are a huge convenience to urban life, but, they have their own pros and cons. While the convenience is not in question, what is problematic is the fact that a lot of companies ignore complaints and focus on the services they provide.
The smartphone has made life very easy for everyone. Phone apps that take care of small day-to-day tasks have made our life convenient and extremely organized. However, when using a service that could put your personal safety at risk, it is best that you know how to handle an emergency and be aware of your surroundings when you are travelling alone.
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