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Yangon enters the taxi app game

Watch out cab drivers – the days of physically hailing a taxi may be dwindling thanks to the arrival of OwayRide, Yangon’s first mobile phone taxi app.

First available online three months ago, the app has since garnered over 20,000 downloads for both Android and iOS platforms. Users can either book for a cab through the application or connect to the 24/7 call centre, which will dispatch the nearest taxis to the passengers.

According to Ko Kyaw Min Swe, director of strategy and marketing of OwayRide, about 100 passengers are using the application each day to access more than 300 taxi drivers available for service. He is confident the user base will grow and hopes that the technology may alleviate Yangon’s congested streets.

The app is available on iPhones and Android devices.The app is available on iPhones and Android devices.

“We can see many cabs going around in Yangon but not all of them always have passengers,” said Ko Kyaw Min Swe. “If taxi drivers are registered on OwayRide, they can park their car at their bases and wait for OwayRide to connect them to passengers instead of driving around the city. In the long term, I believe this will reduce the number of taxis on the road, causing less traffic jams.”

This application also uses the meter system, a rarity in Myanmar. Passengers are charged at a minimum rate of K2000 for 3 kilometers. Beyond that, the rate is K300 per kilometre.

Those accustomed to haggling may fear that the meter system will increase the cost of taxis, but Ko Kyaw Min Swe said meters – the standard for most developed country taxi systems – are actually a good thing.

“Bargaining prices causes trouble for both taxi drivers and passengers. We want to introduce a service where everyone has to pay fairly. The price is transparent and drivers cannot cheat.”

Many drivers are on his side. One OwayRide driver, Ko Wanna Aung, agreed that the entire nation should become familiar to this meter system.

In addition to developing a standard pricing system in Myanmar’s biggest city, OwayRide also aims to prioritise users’ security and guarantees good customer service by tightening its security level on its taxi drivers. The taxi drivers are required to go through verification, safety and security checks.

“We check if the registered taxi driver can give good customer services and is fit to work with OwayRide. The drivers have defensive and customer service training,” said Ko Kyaw Min Swe. “To ensure safety, their cars are checked for proper maintenance and hygiene.”

Look for cars with the trademark stickers on doors and windows.Look for cars with the trademark stickers on doors and windows.

Some taxi drivers see more employment opportunities with the beginning of this application. One OwayRide driver who wished to be anonymous said, “In addition to searching for passengers on the streets, I get extra bookings through OwayRide. Now, I have a fixed amount of income every day.”

But not everyone has rave reviews. Ko Aye Maung, one of the OwayRide taxi drivers, said, “Since this application is new, there are some inconveniences. Once, there was a passenger who booked my taxi but since my taxi was stuck in traffic and I couldn’t get to my destination on time. That person cancelled the booking because he could not wait any more.”

As OwayRide operates through the internet, online connections remain a setback. “There are areas which do not provide good access to internet connection,” said app designer Ma Pan. “Connection sometimes drops when booking for a driver.”

And most taxi drivers view the OwayRide threat to their market share as nothing to worry about. Because of Yangon’s surplus of taxis, it’s rarely a long wait for an empty car. In their view, the risk that an ordered ride could be delayed by gridlock will override the benefits the service provides.

One taxi driver, Ko Kyine, said, “With the traffic jam in our country, I don’t see the benefit of this application. If you book a taxi, that taxi will not get to you on time.”

Designer Ma Pan and Ko Kyine are not alone in their opinions: I encountered such problems myself during my first ride in an OwayRide taxi. After the taxi driver confirmed my pick-up request, I had to wait around 10 minutes – much longer than I would have normally waited.

An OwayRide driver accepts a payment. SuppliedAn OwayRide driver accepts a payment. Supplied

What was even more problematic was that my location displayed incorrectly, which confused the taxi driver. Then, during the middle of the ride, the internet connection broke down and the application stopped, forcing the driver to restart the meter. However, I was treated warmly throughout the ride and felt very safe. I would say the customer service training that OwayRide provides its drivers pays off well.

The technical kinks will work themselves out as Yangon internet continues to improve, but the real question will be the effect OwayRide has on traffic – and traffic has on OwayRide.

Source: Myanmar Times

To learn more about the taxi hailing app industry in Myanmar go to https://consult-myanmar.com/yangon-taxi-hailing-app-hello-oway-grab-uber/

 

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