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Not so Easy-auto?

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Easy auto is an intiative from BTRAC to make commuting through auto-rickshaws easier. I really like the motivation behind this and wish that it becomes a success. When successful, we will all be able to get an auto at the ease of pressing a few buttons.

However, I have a few reservations about the 'easy' part of easy auto and hope they go the extra step to ensure ease-of-use for the end customer.

Lets look at easy auto from the point of view of a potential customer.
Firstly, I need to register my phone numbers (up to ten per registration) by paying 75 Rs. I understand that registration incurrs costs but this is not the place to make up for your costs. You are trying to entice a user to use your service, but you are also posing a big hurdle of 75 Rs between the user and your service. If you have to make money, make it somewhere else. What would you choose? parting with 75 Rs or waiting for 20 mins to get an auto? And when you need an auto, you dont have patience to register, so you have to be fairly foresighted to register beforehand.

OK, lets assume you chose to register, now you send an SMS with your area code (presumably the registration kit has all the area codes). Then they send a confirmation SMS, then antother SMS with Auto Driver's cell number. Then you call the driver and negotiate the final details ("I am the guy with the maroon sweater next to the vegetable cart" thing).

Do you see the problem here? I send the SMS, AND also call the auto driver. This is undoubtedly very user unfriendly.

How about a modified plan then?

  • Make registration free and instantaneous. Its an age for instant gratification and you better serve the market demand for that. Basically I send an SMS and I am registerd. Thats it.
  • Put location codes at each bus-stop, print and distribute maps with location code etc. to make users aware of locaion codes (Something like London Tube Maps). These activities can be sponsored with advertising.
  • When user needs an auto, he/she sends Easy-Auto an SMS, Easy-Auto informs the driver nearby to call the user and figure out the location. (If there are privacy issues, work out a way through central call routing).
  • For revenues, make the SMS number a premium one (something like 8888 number) and charge the user whatever it costs (5 Rs, 10 Rs) per SMS. Since its integrated with the mobile bill, it would be most hassle free for the user. It also does not seem like a big sum compared to 75 Rs. I of course assume the auto driver and easy-auto have some kind of revenue sharing anyway.

Dont get me wrong here, I am not trying to criticize the effort. I am actually very very happy that someone is doing things in the right direction. Just offering suggestions for the success of the service.

Have I missed anything here? Do you think otherwise? Well, that what the comments are for :)

Off the topic, how will easy-auto inform only the drivers who are close by? Will we have GPS enabled Autos?

 

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shas3n's picture

Response from Easy-Auto

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95 users have liked.

I wrote to Easy-Auto informing them about this post and their views on this. I am reproducing the chain of mails here (mail ids are masked). I thought its a good idea to share this with everyone here.

Here we go!

On 8/16/07, shas3n wrote:

User Name:Shastri
Phone No:
Address:
Mobile:
Email: xxxxx
Message: Hello,
I am using the complaints channel since I could not locate an appropriate
feedback channel.
I wrote about how easy auto can benefit more people on a citizen site.
Here is the link
http://bangalore.praja.in/blog/shas3n/2007/06/26/not-so-easy-auto
It would be great if you could go through the feedback and leave your
comments.
Shastri

On 8/23/07, Padmasree H Sundaram <xxxxxx> wrote:

I have tried to post this in your blog too:

Dear sir

We have various factors working against us in this initiative:

1. Though we had the inauguration as part of the B TRAC project, the whole running of the show is being left to us with no participation from any authority in the Government.

2. We have a very small fleet of 125 autos to cater to the entire city's needs - a far cry in numbers compared to what we actually require.

3. We have the responsibility of paying the driver an amount of Rs.15.00 for every no show from the passenger.

4. We have to train the train the driver on sending and replying to SMS, as GPRS devices are too expensive for us to afford at the moment

5. We have to pay SPICE for the telephone lines and E1 line erected, where will the funds come from? No other provider is ready to cooperate with us as they do not want to touch Auto Drivers.

6. We are supposed to give the passengers some registration kits, thaks to Davanam Jewellers, some cost saving was done there.

7. Operator is supposed to dress up the auto driver, 2 sets of Uniform for each person, each set cost us Rs.625.00 - where do we go and dig money for all this sir?

I would like some public attention to how things work for the operator before you say that we are making money from the passengers!! I havent bouthg a Merc or a Duplex with the registration fee collected!!

Regards

Padmasree Harish

On 8/23/07, Shastri <xxxx> wrote:

Dear Padmashree Harish,
I am really saddened to hear that you have been facing problems. I understand that creating a service for a city like Bangalore involves a lot of hurdles. I am in fact a true supporter of your concept and my blog was about how you can make it really successful. I never said the tariff you are collecting from passengers is high, I am just stating the problems you would face with a high registration fee. 

Well, I am glad that you took the time to respond to my query.

We at paja.in are keen on bridging the gap between the general population and service providers (government or otherwise). We would be really glad if you want to start a blog on http://bangalore.praja.in and we hope that it can give you some more visibility with the public. 
Do let us know if you will be interested and we would be glad to help you out.
Thanks and regards,
Shastri
 

 On 8/24/07, Padmasree H Sundaram <xxxxx> wrote:

Dear sir

Thank you very much for your reply. Kindly note that Rs.15.00 from the registration fee collected is being reserved for the "NO SHOW" calls from passengers. We are hopeful that by end of next month we will be able to add 500 autos to our pool. Once this is done, I feel things should smoothen out much more. After Mr.M N Reddi was transferred it is as if our guidance and support is completely not there. The concept was his to help the passengers and to instill some morality and discipline in the auto drivers. I am sure that it is only time that can change things with this project.

Regards

Padmasree

 

-Shastri

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