Friday, November 20, 2009

Autos may go the call taxi way

Autos may go the call taxi way

Staff Reporter
Technology comes to the aid of both the driver as well as the passenger


ADDED BENEFITS: The LCD panel displays a digital magazine with advertisements enabling the driver make some money on the side.
BANGALORE: How many times have you run up and down the road trying to flag down a reluctant autorickshaw at peak hour?

Easy Auto, an initiative by Smart Commuting Services, hopes to combine technology and service for the benefit of the autorickshaw drivers as well as the passengers.

Simple process
The arrangement functions like a call taxi. If you are a passenger, the process is simple: call 9845112233 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., and inform where you would like your Easy Auto to arrive. The call centre connects you to the driver through a conference call. The charges are the regular fares — a minimum of Rs. 14 for the first 2 km, and Rs. 7 every one km subsequently. Fifty autorickshaws are in Easy Auto’s fleet and this pilot project has a licence for six months from the Department of Transport.

Padmashree Harish, who started Smart Commuting Services with the help of her mentors at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B), is hoping to make commuting less of an ordeal for the Bangalorean. “Easy Auto is actually a result of a consortium of five companies including Trinity Comnet, Transact Global call centre, Foresee Productions and Asstecs,” she says. “Once we have 250 in our fleet by February, we will charge the passenger a one-time registration fee of Rs. 75 and Rs. 3 a trip. The service will be made fulltime. By the first week of December, registered passengers will be able to see the location of various autos online.”

An Easy Auto looks like any other autorickshaw, and is covered on one side with a fibre glass panel. It has an LCD screen behind driver’s seat, and it displays a digital magazine with advertisements. It has space for a water bottle and the day’s newspapers, a first-aid kit, and a radio, making passengers feel as if they are in a cab.

Sops for drivers
Drivers of Easy Auto, says Ms. Harish, only stand to gain as they are assured of a monthly revenue for carrying the digital advertising screen, don’t have to worry about dry or empty runs; and their families too are covered by medical insurance.

“We have entered into a partnership with Canara Bank where we train the drivers’ wives in handicrafts and help them set up their own enterprise,” says Ms. Harish.

Meanwhile, there are scholarship schemes and student benefits for drivers’ children.

Easy Auto is in fact round two of an initiative that began in 2007, where one could send a text message to order an auto. “I did not have the resources to set up GPS at that time,” confesses Ms. Harish.


At Friday, November 20, 2009 at 11:24:00 AM GMT+5:30, Blogger Unknown said... seems to the the website - you folks could've linked it in this piece.

Also, the number seems to be incorrect by a digit in the post..


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