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Update: PoochO users complain of incorrect numbers; App launched in Delhi earlier this month

Update: PoochO users have reported that the auto driver numbers provided by the app are incorrect in most cases, reports The Economic Times. A number of users posted similar complaints on the app’s Google Play Store page. The Response Team at DIMTS seem to be proactive. They have posted replies to a few comments. Another issue a user highlighted was that the app doesn’t inform if an auto has already been hired or not. A senior DIMTS official told ET that the phone numbers are being updated and within a few days this issue will be resolved.

Earlier (July 15): Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS), the joint venture between the NCR government and Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC) Foundation has launched an Android app called PoochO.

This app will allow Delhi commuters locate auto rickshaws near them, contact them, and book trips. It will also provide information on estimated fare, trip distance, travel time, and traffic condition on any selected route. These autos are also fitted with GPS which enables commuters to track the auto after the booking is confirmed.Pooch-O

After the trip, commuters can pay the fare to the auto rickshaw driver. It’s worth noting that while users don’t have to pay anything to use PoochO, they do have to pay for the extra distance travelled by the auto to reach them. In a sense, this is quite similar to how Olacabs or TaxiForSure works, except that this service is from the government and focuses on Autorickshaws only.

In the app description page, DIMTS mentions that the fare doesn’t include night-time charges, waiting time charges in traffic jams and extra baggage charges. It also notes that the fare doesn’t include “any other regulatory clause related to the fare estimation”, although we are not quite sure what that means.

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GPS-fitted autos: At launch, Lt. Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung mentions that around 24,000 autos in Delhi is currently equipped with GPS-trackers. Remember that the Delhi High Court had made it compulsory for auto rickshaws in the city to install GPS-trackers and printers in September 2012.

For this, DIMTS had been authorized to provide auto rickshaws in the city with the necessary equipment like GPS, a two way communication device, and a printer for printing of receipt, among other equipment. Auto-rickshaws had to reportedly pay Rs 13,500 upfront for these equipments.

We feel this is a great move by DIMTS and should enable passengers get autos more easily. Although, we wonder if there is any complaint mechanism in place for passengers, in case there are any fare issues or any other issues with the drivers. We also hope that this initiative doesn’t remain limited to Delhi and other states also launch similar initiatives for auto commuters.

While Call-to-order-auto service isn’t really a new concept in the country, it hasn’t really caught on because companies haven’t been able to get significant auto rickshaw drivers on board.

Some of the players which offer such services include RadioTukTuk in Gurgaon, Autowale in Pune and mGaadi in Bangalore, which had recently raised seed funding from Unitus Seed Fund. There was also Rickshawale in Mumbai, although the site is no longer active, hence we are not quite sure if the service has been shut down or not. EasyAuto had also introduced a similar service in Bangalore back in 2007.

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