Startups like Ryde does indeed need a lot of work and effort in order to convince taxi companies to consider collaborating with the platform. However, that does not deter from the fact that we are still committed to modernizing taxi industry.
Companies thrive and cross the mainstream chasm if they continue to create value for its stakeholders. If we are to succeed in this transformation, our focus will have to be on the following actors in the eco-system:
- Customers, who will pay for the service
- Drivers, who will deliver the service.
Without them, we will also fail, just like the taxi companies.
- Reliability: Taxi companies in the Lower Mainland have consistently scored very poorly on the reliability of the service as highlighted in online reviews.
At Ryde, we believe the biggest contributor to the negative reviews is the lack of communication about the status of your taxi. When we started with our minimum viable product, we sent notifications to the customers to keep them informed about the status of their ride, something which our customers loved. For taxi companies to succeed, they will have to leverage the power of software to create transparency in their communication with their clients, a feature that Ryde has already implemented.
- Driver’s Information: A taxi driver has to go through many regulatory hurdles to drive a taxi. A taxi company might spend thousands of dollar on training the taxi driver, yet, they fail to communicate this to the customer. At Ryde, we have leveraged a similar concept to Uber by communicating the car (make, model and year), driver information and driver rating for the customer. Taxi drivers have a wealth of knowledge of the city’s roadways accumulated through several years of commercial driving, and yet, customers have never understood the credentials of their drivers.
- Price Surge: Ride hailing companies have implemented a basic economics concept taught in high school, when the supply is low, demand is high, the prices rise. They call it surge pricing, but consumers can often be taken by surprise by this concept. Since taxi companies have to abide the rates set by regulations, consumers should prefer to take a taxi during periods of high demand since they will not be subject to surge pricing.
- App Reliability: – One common complaint of customers who use taxi company’s app is that it does not work at most times. Unfortunately, the companies do not care, and only update their application on a “feel-like basis”, or about few times a year at best. Uber gets updated weekly. Why that often? Because no software project is perfect, and Uber continuously provides enhancements and bug fixes throughout the software lifecycle. Ultimately, without a software, their ridership will diminish. At Ryde, we take great pride in ensuring very frequent updates to the client facing software, and daily updates to the secret layer behind the brain of the software.
- App Based Requests: The switch to the smartphone based app is crucial for the future, because it is cheaper to rollout updates to the platform, collect data from the phone’s hardware, and continuously work on enhancing the feature set and fixing bugs. A smartphone based application will also allow the taxi driver to understand the customer they are picking up, are they always on time, or do they consistently no-show? Ryde has already implemented this feature with the ability for drivers to add notes about their customers so all future drivers are aware of their preferences.
- Analytics: Collecting data from the phone’s hardware will allow companies, and regulatory authorities to understand how the service can be improved. The goal should be keeping the drivers busy during their shift and reducing the time dead-heading towards a customer by matching a driver to a request near its vicinity, rather, the current implementation of queue based system. Even worse, the current regulation of geo-fencing is causing multiple vehicles to dead-head to a region where they can pick up their customers. At Ryde, analytics is close to our heart. We collect all the data about each ride.
- Prediction: Imagine if your smartphone advises you there is a 60% chance of getting a ride in 4 minutes worth $100 based on historical trends for the region you are located in. By allowing the driver to trust the platform, it enhances the confidence in ensuring the fleet utilization rate is maximized. Although Ryde does not currently have this feature set, we do hold the technical expertise to build this component with a sufficient amount of data.