Online taxi

Explained | ‘Kerala Savari’, India’s first online taxi service as a public option

Why is the Kerala government launching its own app-based taxi service? How does it differ from existing private actors?

Why is the Kerala government launching its own app-based taxi service? How does it differ from existing private players?

The story so far: Kerala has soft-launched “Kerala Savari”, the country’s first online taxi service owned by a state government, to provide fair and decent service to passengers as well as fair compensation to motor taxi workers. Run by the Motor Workers Welfare Board under the Department of Labour, Kerala Savari ensures safe travel for the public at ‘Government Approved Fares’ without any ‘excessive pricing’. The “Kerala Savari” app will soon be made available to the public on online platforms as it is currently under the control of Google.

Why did the state government decide to launch this initiative?

Alleged unfair business practices and violation of consumer rights by app-based private taxi aggregators have become a major concern for governments. Recently, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) sent formal notices to taxi aggregators Ola and Uber for unfair commercial practices and violation of consumer rights. Passengers often complain about poor service, including charging exorbitant fares during peak hours, unprofessional behavior from drivers, lack of appropriate response from customer service, and undue perception of cancellation fees despite the refusal of the taxi driver to accept the trip booked by the passenger etc…

Also read: Commuters in Bengaluru are tired of being ‘taken for a ride’

It is against this background that the government of Kerala has decided to come up with an app-based platform to offer automated taxi service to the public. As private companies only focus on profit, the government-controlled online taxi service is a service-oriented system – a win-win situation for passengers and taxi drivers and owners.

What are the main attractions of ‘Kerala Savari’?

Private taxi aggregators used to make a killing with rush prices during peak hours or when it rained. Passengers were often forced to pay through their noses during these critical times. But there will be no fluctuation in the fares on Kerala Savari no matter what day, night or rain.

When app-based private taxi companies raise service fares up to two to three times in an emergency, neither passengers nor workers benefit. But Kerala Savari only charges 8% service charge on top of the fare set by the government, while private taxi aggregators charge up to 20-30% service charge. The taxi owner will get the approved fare on “Kerala Savari”, while taxi owners working for online private companies will often get a lower fare than the government approved fare.

Additionally, of the 8% service fee collected from passengers, 6% will go to the technical partner, and the remaining 2% will go to implementing this program and providing promotional incentives to passengers and drivers. . The government will not benefit from this scheme. For example, if the passenger traveled a fixed distance of ₹100, the total fare would be ₹108 including the service charge. The car owner will receive ₹100 and the remaining ₹8 will be used to operate the facility and provide promotional incentives to passengers and drivers. In the case of online private taxi aggregators, the car owner would go below the fare of ₹100 despite driving a fixed distance for the same fare band. Also, they would charge more than 20% service fee.

What are the security related features of ‘Kerala Savari’?

One of the main issues that arise with app-based taxi services is that of passenger safety. Kerala Savari is claimed as a safe and reliable online service for women, children and seniors. This consideration has gained prominence in application design and driver registration. A criminal record certificate is mandatory for drivers joining the program apart from the proper training required.

A panic button system has been introduced in the application. This button can be pressed in the event of a car accident or any other danger. We can do it completely in private. If the driver presses the panic button, the passenger will not be alarmed and the same is true when the passenger presses the panic button. When the button is pressed, there is an option to select Police, Fire and Motor Vehicle Department numbers. If you are in such a dangerous situation that you cannot select any options, press the button for a few seconds and you will be directly connected to the police control room.

It was also decided to install GPS in vehicles at a subsidized rate. This will be implemented gradually. A 24-hour call center has been prepared for this purpose. A state-of-the-art call center operates at the Motor Workers Welfare Board district office. The call center operates in such a way that all service-related issues can be resolved immediately.

Will the new government initiative end the monopoly of private taxi aggregators?

Kerala has more than five lakh autorickshaws and one lakh taxis. The state government plans to consolidate all auto taxi workers engaged in the sector under the new platform. Since smartphone literacy is high in Kerala, the state hopes to bring them into the curriculum in a short period of time. In addition, the Kerala government has also decided to provide fuel, insurance and tire subsidies to vehicle owners in the future and has already started talks with major companies in this regard. After the evaluation of the first phase of the project in Thiruvananthapuram, it will be extended to the whole state gradually. Kerala Savari is expected to reach the municipal boundaries of Kollam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur within a month.

  • Kerala has smoothly launched ‘Kerala Savari’, to ensure decent service to passengers as well as fair compensation to car taxi workers. It is operated by the Motor Workers Welfare Board under the Department of Labor

  • Kerala Savari only charges an 8% service charge on top of the rate set by the government. Of the 8% service fee, 6% will go to the technical partner, and the remaining 2% will go to implementing this program and providing promotional incentives to passengers and drivers.

  • Kerala Savari is a safe and reliable online service for women, children and seniors. A criminal record certificate is mandatory for drivers joining the program apart from the proper training required