The service is currently available in Bangalore with plans to expand it to other cities in the forthcoming months. The company is collaborating with a Bangalore-based social enterprise Three Wheels Limited which focuses on the financial inclusion of auto drivers, for this initiative.
Indic interface for drivers: TaxiForSure co-founder and CEO Raghunandan G said that they are initially starting off with a fleet of 500 autos who will be exclusive to the company, and they intend to expand it to over 1,000 autos in Bangalore shortly. Interestingly, Raghunandan said that they have also developed a multilingual app for auto drivers which supports English, Hindi and Kannada. This will allow auto drivers to read the customer address and other menu options in their preferred language.
Three Wheels Limited will be responsible for sourcing these auto drivers as well as ensuring that they have proper documentation like police verification & driver verification among others.
While the feature is yet to go live at the time of writing this article, Raghunandan said that users will be able to view autos nearest to their location on the TaxiForSure app and book them. They will have to pay the regular meter fare to the driver along with a convenience fee of Rs 10, similar to how Ola’s auto service works. Raghunandan said that this convenience fee will be split between TaxiForSure and Three Wheels Limited, although he didn’t disclose the exact split between them.
Is Convenience Fee illegal? Raghunandan said they are currently in talks with the Karnataka transport department on whether levying a convenience fee is illegal or not. He believes that they should be allowed to charge a convenience fee since they bring in significant value to consumers through this service.
Karnataka transport department had earlier said that levying a convenience fee from consumers on top of the fixed auto fare is illegal, a day after Ola had introduced its on-demand auto service. Transport commissioner Rame Gowda had said –
The regional transport authority decides on auto fare and that is final. The private taxi operator has got no right to collect a convenience fee for providing the service.
Permits for Auto service? Raghunandan also said that unlike taxis, providing an on-demand auto service doesn’t require any license as of now, which they’ve checked with the transport department. Last month, Karnataka and the Delhi government has mandated taxi aggregators to sign up for a radio taxi license to continue operating in their respective states.