Any Mumbaikar will tell you how badly it pinches to fork out up to 40 per cent more on taxi fare after the hike in tariffs. Revisit the newspapers of a few weeks ago and you'll find many office-goers from Maximum City contemplating going back to the grind of taking the local train or bus service to maintain their expense budgets.
Sensing an opportunity here, two entrepreneurs operating out of the city's Shere Punjab locality in Andheri East, came up with a service product that would allow the commuter to continue using the taxi at a much lower cost. N V Subramanian, an engineer from BITS Pilani with qualifications in business management from IIM-Lucknow, and Prakash Sikaria, an IIT Kanpur alumnus, started sharedcab.com, a platform on which you can book an AC cab at a price lower than both taxi and auto fares.
The service offers AC rides at Rs 8 per kilometer for a week's commute, and Rs 7.5 a km for a month. Which means you will end up paying only about Rs 90 for an '11 km trip from Sion to Worli Seaface in an AC cab, compared with Rs 180 that other service providers such as Tab cab and OLA will charge you (see sample tariff card). The catch -- you've got to share the ride with two others travelling on the same route.
How it works
- Visit www.sharedcab.com, fill in your daily travel details
- Sign up with your mobile and email address. You'll get an email and SMS confirmation with driver and car details, nearest pick-up and drop points and cost.
- The company will contact you once they find other passengers on the same route.
- Your pick up location and mobile number will be sent to the driver.
At present, sharedcab.com does not have its own fleet, but has tied up with other operators in Mumbai. The firm runs five days a week, from 8am to 8:30pm. Cool cab sedans and small cars such as Mahindra Logan, Maruti Swift, D'zire, Tata Indigo, wagon R and Santro will accommodate no more than three passengers each -- one in the front, two behind -- to ensure comfort.
The firm currently runs 150 passenger trips per day and hopes to increase it soon, owing to the rise in demand. At present, it is operating in Mumbai only.
The flip side
- You are not permitted to carry luggage, so if you're headed to the airport with a suitcase and more, look elsewhere.
- No point-to-point pick-up and drop -- you might have to walk a few kilometers or opt for an alternative mode of transport to reach your nearest common pick-up point or get to your destination from the drop point.
- Safety could be an issue as you would, in all probability, be travelling with unknown passengers.
- The service operates from 8am to 10:30am and 6pm to 8:30pm only.
- You may not always get two other passengers to pool with.
All said and done, sharedcab.com is a service worth trying out if you're confident you can avoid these hitches. More than saving costs, you will also be doing the environment a favour. Says Subramanian: "The service isn't only pocket-friendly, it also leaves a lower carbon footprint, because one vehicle caters to three commuters at a time."