Smartphone taxi booking apps promise safe rides in Malaysia
– By Sumisha Naidu, channelnewsasia.com
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s taxi drivers have been dubbed “the worst in the world”, often accused of overcharging, unreliability and in some cases, harassing customers.
But now, smartphone taxi booking apps that promise safe rides and quality service are breathing new life into the troubled sector.
Ask any city-dwelling Malaysian, and they can tell you of at least one horror story involving a taxi.
“A woman took a taxi at midnight and the driver raped her,” one passenger told Channel NewsAsia.
“There are taxi drivers who don’t use the meter, who just try and get higher rates,” said another passenger.
Indeed, Malaysian taxi drivers have even been dubbed the worst in the world by foreign blogs.
But the industry is now slowly but surely shedding its bad reputation – thanks to a host of third-party booking apps, promising safe and efficient rides.
Booking a taxi with these apps is pretty easy.
A passenger needs to key in where they want to go and they will be given a fare estimate and assigned a driver.
Next, all they have to do is wait for the taxi to show up.
But in a year where even the government has considered installing panic buttons and CCTV cameras in all cabs, the apps’ main appeal is its safety features.
Adelene Foo, MyTeksi country manager of MyTeksi, said: “Safety is definitely one of the main pillars of concern when we talk to people in Malaysia. How we empower passengers is details of the driver, so you know who’s going to pick you up, you know his name, you know his number plate, you even know his phone number. You get to track him, seeing him coming to you on the map and also whenever you sit in the taxi, you’re also able to share your taxi journey with your loved ones.”
MyTeksi is Malaysia’s most popular taxi booking app with 400,000 downloads.
Other apps like Brazil’s Easy Taxi are not far behind, gaining 90,000 downloads since its launch in May.
For the many independent contractor taxi drivers in Malaysia, this seemingly renewed faith in the industry has been a god-send.
Cheryl, a taxi driver, said: “Convenient actually and the difficulty of having to go out in the streets and look for passengers… no more.”
Siva Prakash Mariyappan, a taxi driver, said: “A lot of customers. One day I can get more than 20 customers.”
Spurred on by its local success, MyTeksi is now expanded, launching in the Philippines, Thailand and even Singapore as GrabTaxi.
But the company won’t be neglecting it’s original goal – to rid Malaysian taxi drivers of their bad reputations once and for all.
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