Radio Taxi = White Noise?

For a person like me, who doesn’t know how to drive a car could be really troublesome. One of recent incidents with “one-of-major” radio taxi player in Delhi lead me to think if Radio Taxis are really helpful or just white noise?

There is a boom in radio taxis in NCR (or may be other parts of country). I don’t see anyone as a clear ruler of this segment (there are few common names though). Even the local, off the corner taxi owner is running a radio taxi. Many a times I’ve got a cab when I’ve requested but then there are situations when I believe maturity from taxi providers is missing.

Incident 1:
I stay in South Delhi and frequent to Ghaziabad. In one of the instances, I had to detour via Noida. I called up one of leading radio taxi provider in Delhi NCR explaining my route plan. The guy on other side of the phone said, since they fall in 2 different NCR it is not possible. I don’t know where they create their maps, any place outside Delhi (and New Delhi) is NCR (Alwar, Baghpat, Gurgaon, Sonepat, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida and other nearby towns). As far geography goes, Noida and Ghaziabad is in Uttar Pradesh. By the where is the other NCR? There could be many ways to go from point A to B and one option of going from my place to Ghaziabad does go via Noida.

It took me an hour to convince the provider but it was in vain. Finally I gave up and then asked directly for Ghaziabad, I explained the requirement to cab driver who agreed to it and said “Noida ke andar se hi jaana hai, ghuma lenge. Hamein kya hai  paise aapko dene hai” (We will go va Noida, will take the detour. Anyways, its you who has to pay). In my opinion driver was sensible than the person on phone and did not pay heed to the request. Isn’t it good that the provider has some plan of stoppages to ensure safety? Or even not care via which route we go A to B as it is expected the Radio Taxi to be fitted with GPS.

Incident 2:
Recently may father had to board a flight at 9 AM in the morning. For the flight, check-in should be done by 8 AM which translates to leave home at about 7 AM. I believe this is quite early in the morning. We called for “another-leading” Radio Taxi provider of NCR a day in advance for the booking. We were pleasantly said, “the cab will be confirmed one hour before scheduled booking time”. Eventually, we did not get the cab (of course, most will be sleeping at 6 AM). I called up the customer care, to which the response was legen-wait for it-dary, “Agar aapko lagta hai hamari service achhi nahi hai, aap book mat kijiye. Hamne aapko force nahi kiya hai” (If you don’t like our service, don’t book with with us. We have not forced you.) So, if you call a radio taxi a day in advance and don’t get it, now that’s what a White Noise is.

Most of the Radio Taxi in Delhi have some common rules:

  • Booking amount & Cancellation Charge
    Booking and cancellation charge is something they provide for service and is acceptable
  • Generally only for 2 people
    Limiting to 2 people – additional charges for additional person. It’s not an Autorickshaw!
  • 2 piece of luggage
    Additional charges here too but respite is handbags and laptop bags are free! 2 People = 2 Luggage, sounds logical to them but do they think you always can’t pack huge bags. i was asked extra for pram! Airlines even allow prams free of charge.
  • Booking confirmation 1-2 hour before actual
    What! Ever heard of advance booking?
  • Toll charges extra

Delhi Metro might be the safest mode of transport in Delhi but it is not everywhere. Radio Taxi are safe to most extent as it is expected that the drivers are well scrutinized and trained. Easy to track (for operators and family by knowing booking number) and certainty to reach home after late night party! The most pinching part to me is limit to number of people to 2 and confirmation before 60 minutes. I don’t see a reason for both of their apart from money-making (which of course they will make).

For a 2 person limit, this is purely a monetary strategy to extract money. Going to a party, visiting a family friend or even a local sight-seeing, you don’t always go in groups of two. Here comes another service that the Radio Taxi provides. The provide another premium service, which can carry more number of people, can do multiple stops and then there is option to pay only for distance traveled (what! how was the non-premium service charged then?). That means if you are alone or 2 people, you go the standard way else take the premium service and shell out more.

For confirmation 60 minutes before journey is a classic example of making money – anyway possible. Even if you do advance booking or impromptu one, you are uncertain till the point you get a cab. If you book another cab in this uncertainty and first one arrives, pay the cancellation charge. If cab comes, then of course you pay for it. I’ve raised this with couple of “so-called-leading” Radio taxis but they say this is our policy guidelines but they can confirm the booking for the premium service. Amazingly, premium service cars don’t look different from regular.

I don’t say all Radio Taxis fall in this category but if the leading ones follow this suite, I’m sure what precedent they are setting for the smaller players – which are still plying in call-cum-radio taxi mode and many a times without meter charges prescribed by Department of Transport.

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