Cutting-edge IT drives Meru Cabs chain
December 23, 2008 10:13 AM
MUMBAI: To avoid the hassle of hunting for a taxi at night, Rishita logged online to book a Meru cab to go to the airport.
Not only was her booking confirmed almost immediately, but soon an SMS also informed her about the details of the cab and the chauffeur (also known as subscriber) along with the expected time of arrival.
Soon after, a green-colored Mahindra Logan arrived on time.
The captain - that's what chauffeur called in Meru lingo, started the digital meter, smartly-placed besides the global positioning system (GPS). At the end of her journey, a happy Rishita paid the cab based on a printed receipt from the digital cab meter. While the customers are happy, so are the chauffeurs.
46-year-old Sambhaji Bhosle, who has been driving a Meru cab for the past year-and-a-half, said he feels superior to any other taxi chauffeur. "Without any investment, we get to drive a new car, and with the help of GPS technology, the call centre of the company also gets us customers."
Operated by V Link Taxis, Meru has 2,000 Maruti Esteems, Logans and newly-inducted Indigo Marinas plying on the streets of Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Delhi. Each of these cabs can be located through the GPS-based dispatch technology and a 24x7 customer service centre.
So, when a customer calls this service to book a cab, the GPS-based dispatch technology helps locate the cabs in five-km vicinity of the location specified. The software then sends out an SMS bid to those subscribers (cab chauffeur). The details of the subscriber who accepts the bid are sent immediately to the customer, confirming the booking. The Mobile Dispatch Terminal, imported from Digitax, Italy, is connected to the digital cab meters making it tamper-proof and integrated with the GPS-system. This ensures that every fare is tracked and any possibility of over charging is avoided. The subscriber is supposed to pay a daily fee, depending on the city, to the company for using the cab and the rest is his income. For Mumbai, the fee is Rs 600 for using a Maruti Esteem and Rs 700 for a Logan.
"Even after paying the fees, I make at least Rs 20,000 a month, much more than what I earned in my 23 years of driving the black and yellow taxi," Bhosle said.
With its fleet of 2,000 cabs, Meru today does 10,000 trips a day. The demand for services that offer something extra and different to the customer is fast increasing. Mark Pereira, chief executive officer of Meru Cabs said, "Following the demand, we are expanding our fleet to 11,000 by March 2011".