Taxi-Hire Goes Mobile in Burma’s Car-Clogged Commercial Capital

RANGOON — A new mobile phone application linking passengers with taxi drivers has launched in Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township, billed as the latest initiative to help reduce traffic congestion in Burma’s car-clogged commercial capital.

The phone app, named “hoho,” is created by Rangoon-based start-up company Myantel and officially launched in mid-June after a trial-run period from February-May this year.

Mobile users select their desired pick up and destination points and the software locates the closest taxi driver. The driver then offers a price, which can be compared against the software’s suggested price, and the user can either accept or select another driver.

Once the transaction is complete, the app tracks the taxi’s progress and estimated arrival time.

“Drivers are traveling around the city to find a customer instead of stopping at one place or a taxi stand. This is a factor in causing traffic jams,” said Myantel founder Dana Aung. “With this app, they don’t need to drive around anymore and they can easily find nearby customers.”

Traffic congestion in Burma’s biggest city has grown significantly since the government lifted car import restrictions in October 2011. Journey-times in the former capital have increased in parallel with the rising number of vehicles on the road.

Not only will the app help reduce traffic congestion, according to Dana Aung, it will also allow passengers to retrieve lost personal items, as well as offer a sense of security, as drivers’ profiles are stored on the system.

The company began distributing the app among phone users in Hlaing Tharyar Township on Wednesday, the Myantel founder said, and they will begin registering taxi drivers on the system from Thursday.

“We chose to start in Hlaing Tharyar since there are many housing estates there and residents can’t easily hire a taxi,” Dana Aung said, adding that the company would continue distribution in other townships soon.

Myat Thu Aung, also of Myantel, said that in downtown areas such as Kyauktada Township, taxi-hire was already more straightforward due to the proximity of apartments to main roads.

He said that the company plans to begin with 200-250 registered taxi drivers to service the Hlaing Tharyar area.

The free app is available for download, or can be picked up at supermarkets, mobile phone shops and from street counters opened in the township.

Source: The Irrawaddy

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