Thursday, July 23, 2009

A radio taxi service in Pune

Living in India's Autorickshaw-Hell, also known as Bangalore, I was surprised to note that another city could inspire the same dread of being stranded without transport in the middle of nowhere. Unless, of course, you enjoy daylight robberies in which case there are rickshaws aplenty.

We were recently in Pune and realized that going from the airport at Lohegaon to a destination 15-20KM away can easily cost Rs.600 or more. This is from a pre-paid taxi counter (which is just a farce run by the taxi lobby; it is neither regulated nor reasonable). Going to the airport is another nightmare: apart from a higher price, you can never be sure of simply hailing a taxi or auto. For early morning or late night flights, be prepared to pay a King's ransom!

Delhi and Bangalore suffer from similar woes when it comes to rude, cheating rickshaw drivers. Luckily, both cities now have excellent radio taxi networks that assure a reliable, cost-effective and stress-free ride from anywhere to anywhere. All you do is call a local helpline, they track the nearest taxi on a satellite-system and usually send you a taxi within 15-30 minutes. Surprisingly, none of the major companies like Cel Cabs or Meru Cabs have a presence in Pune. That is when we discovered Wings Radio Taxi. Even the locals seemed unaware of their presence and it was only repeated searching on Google that helped us find them.

They seem to have a small but well-run operation in Pune. We have not used them extensively to comment on their service. However, what impressed us was that they took the effort of following up with us after we made a complaint regarding their service. The executive, Ms.Sneha, called us numerous times to ensure that we were satisfied and that the experience would be pleasant. The driver was also very polite and cheerful, although he kept chattering on the phone the entire time. Can't blame him, since even so-called educated people don't think twice nowadays about talking while driving-- putting everyone else at extreme risk, while they sit safely behind airbags. The vehicle was clean and well-maintained from inside. The exteriors were muddy but that could be just the famous Pune rains... The billing was metered and the driver was happy to return the change. We let him keep it, which he was happier to do :-)

A city with large student and senior-citizen population like Pune needs more such services. One hopes they maintain punctuality and discipline. Reliability and affordability are the #1 expectations from a radio taxi service. Good companies like Spot Taxi in Bangalore have died once their taxis started to come late or not at all. So far, it looks like Wings Taxis are on the right track. We wish them luck!

Bookings are made on a single central number +91 20 40100100 (14 lines)and this is a24X7 service

You can also make bookings (or complaints) at their website

The charges are a bit high at Rs.16 per Km (in most cities the average is Rs.12/Km) but that will come down with more competition. Minimum fare is Rs.50 (for 3KM) which seems fair. Given the low cost of running taxis on LPG, the high taxi fares are nothing but extortion in all cities. Until now, we even got rickety unsafe vehicles for that price but at least that is changing now.

PS: Atul's blog seems to echo most of these views. Have a look!

14 comments:

Toonfactory said...

Rs.16/Km is actually very decent when you pay Rs.20/20+ per KM to the autowallahs here, who will still make you feel they are doing some sort of public service to you...Autowallahs here in Pune & for that matter in Bangalore act like Hyenas, stand in group...cheat you and almost devour your hard earned money!

starry eyed said...

Cool! Hope they expand to Bangalore soon..before I actually bash up an autowallah, that is:)

Vidooshak said...

oh starry, bangalore has loads of such cabs already. much cheaper and better. like cel cabs, city safari, meru, etc

BK Chowla said...

In Delhi the taxi system is well organised and we pay rs 15/km.From Gurgaon to the airport drop is Rs 400. All this is reasonable and more so it is convenient

eye-in-sty-in said...

thats very useful info.... thanks for sharing.

Mama - Mia said...

you know frankly i was OK that he was least using handsfree to talk on the phone! have you noticed how out of fashion handsfree and bluetooth has gone! sigh!

all in all it was a pleasant experience! hopefully folks back home will try using it locally and tell us more! :)

great post!

cheers!

abha

Emaan said...

hi buddy !
long timeeee.. how hav u been ?

ive tagged you.. hee hee.. check 'Sach ka Samna' (face the truth) for the questions on my blog .. hope u do it.. just for fun !
:-)

happy f'ship day

Sowmya Srikrishnan said...

hey!

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Coming from a worse place wrt to autos, I am acvtually ok in Bangalore. I have in fact met some nice autowallahs here. Strange no?

Pasty said...

I read this and realize that here we take much for granted as far as public transportation goes. In the Fox Valley Wisconsin we have a bus service that goes from city to city for a price of only $1.50 or so. We also have taxi service and the same ride would cost $15 or so. It's strange the difference between the two.

Of course our scenery is probably not nearly as interesting as I would find yours.

Sandeep said...

I stole my post!. I was in Pune in April and used this service. You won't believe how much I loved Bangalore at that time!. First of all they have only 100 taxies with them. On top of that they do not come on time, for me it came 1.5 hours late!. Also one more shocking thing I got to know about the Driver who was driving the can is that most of the drivers work 24x7 and hardly get sleep. Most of the time they are unaware of common places in Pune as well. In Bangalore the Citi Taxi is much better and Pune definitly needs to learn this business from Banglaluru for sure!

cheers
Sandeep

Sandeep said...

Sorry I wanted to say "You Stole my post!" ...

Swati said...

Okay..sent the link to my brother ..who is relocating to pune next month

jackie said...

I had used wings radio service twice , once when I had to go airport which is 30 km from my house and second was when I was going to deal for my new car. At both the time the taxi reached at my home on time and without any issue I reached at both the places on time.

Luton transfer

bharatbook said...

Worldwide as well as in India, taxi services market is variedly unorganized. However, in the recent past, companies started capitalizing this market and in no time several large as well as small radio taxi operators expanded rapidly in the Indian radio taxi market. Since, 2009 the market has witnessed the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41.90% in terms of market revenues. Increasing consumer disposable income along with poor public transport system in the country has give rise to a new market of radio taxi services.