A new online taxi service, Nitro Guyana is looking to make its mark on the local scene by offering a faster and more affordable option to request a taxi.
The company which was conceptualized by Ricardo Persaud, an overseas software engineer, is preparing to launch later this month and has already attracted applications from more than 300 drivers, the majority of them coming from of the Georgetown area.
Nitro Guyana’s philosophy is that a driver should not drive in search of passengers, but rather focus on a specific location.
The new application will be available to customers across the country with access to Internet service.
After registering, a customer can log in to the website and request a taxi. In their request, the customer will enter information such as their pick-up point and destination. Once this information is received, it will be sent to drivers who are in the area and they will provide offers.
“Once you have done this the driver will send you a quote which you can either accept and accept the ride or you can wait for the next option. In some cases, you will have several options depending on the number of pilots responding and you can see and decide which pilot is the best option for you,” explained Persaud, who currently resides in the United States, regarding the functionality of the website. . Platform.
For drivers, the company’s Facebook page explained how the system works: “You pick a location and see what rides are available at that location. Send offers to as many passengers as you want. The first one who accepts your offer takes you as a driver. Then when you are at your new location, just make sure the village displayed is the village you are in. And repeat the process.
According to the 30-year-old software engineer who also serves as the company’s CEO, once the passenger accepts the taxi, they receive a pin, which can only be accessed by both parties. He said it was to check that the drivers were picking up the right customers.
Once the ride is accepted, a chat box opens and the driver and passenger can now communicate effectively.
He explained that one of the advantages of the service is the initial pricing which will allow the passenger to say how much he is willing to pay. The deposit fees are set by the driver individually.
“We didn’t want to be involved in how the drivers do their job beyond the point of connecting them to the passenger,” Persaud pointed out. In the start-up phase, he noted that they will accept cash and later arrange for electronic payments.
According to him, drivers who use the service will benefit significantly since they won’t have to pay a base fee and will only pay a percentage of the drop.
“We charge a maximum of 3% rounded to the nearest $10. If you took a ride for which you charged your customers $1,000. The maximum we will charge is $30 for this ride,” Persaud said while noting that when calculated, it turns out to be 70% cheaper than the monthly base charge.
Persaud said it conducted tests on 2G networks to give users the best use of their data plans. “Our site is designed to be small and fast. The data per visit is around 3KB and less than 30MB of data is needed per month if a driver plans to use the service daily.”
He said that all pilots will be checked and during the registration period, they will be asked to submit documents during registration.
The company, he said, is working on a plan to award drivers a Nitro badge. This is, he explained, a verification of drivers and passengers in good standing in operations.
“With this badge, we hope it will provide the driver and passenger with some security and integrity. For example, if a regular passenger is in an area that could be at risk, having the badge will allow the driver to know that they are a verified and legitimate customer. On the other hand, it would boost the confidence of the passenger to know that they are traveling with a reliable driver,” added Persaud.
Noting that his initiative is different from what companies were trying to do about five years ago, Persaud explained that this new option is guaranteed to work since they don’t have maps built into their platform.
He said the gaps the companies aimed to cover were too broad and because there was no intention of a culture change, it was simply not feasible.
“Guyana is currently calling to get a taxi. You can’t go from that to an Uber-like solution. The effort to bring about cultural change will be too great. What Nitro offers is a step-by-step, part Uber-like and part text-based type-in of your ride details,” he said.
In his view, however, his platform will eliminate the challenge of having to call multiple taxi bases to request a taxi.
“I’ve been to Guyana and you have to call different bases to get a car, sometimes even call back to find out if they’re sending a car and where it is. So that’s one of the reasons I thought that it would be a good idea to eliminate all that,” he added.
Since data is expensive, it was not possible to use an integrated card system because it consumes a lot of data.
“Uber even recommends having an unlimited plan if you use their platform as a driver. This immediately disqualifies the iRide eCabs approach. Also, there was no network latency. Network latency in Guyana is weak or inconsistent in testing. This is vital for mapping,” he added.
Persaud went on to say that the app also failed because there was no incentive for drivers or passengers to switch from the current standard to the solution that was being offered.
In 2017, mobile app taxi service Drop pulled out of the market as it said it was not possible to operate here due to difficulties in encouraging cultural change. Despite commitments from Ecabs and iRide, two other apps to stay in the market, they couldn’t take off in the face of similar challenges.
In 2018, directors of Ecabs and iRide said they were working to address challenges, including poor quality mobile internet services, to ensure their mobile apps could work effectively across the Guyanese landscape. , but they ultimately failed.