By Zahara Zuhair
PickMe, the recently introduced technology-based taxi service, broadened its language base by including Sinhala and Tamil to the application.
The service, which was introduced in June, allows customers to look for the closets three-wheelers, mini cabs and sedans and hail it, smartphone to smartphone using the GPS (Global Positioning System) system.
“Since the launch, we made a significant contribution to the Sri Lankan transport industry. We have changed the way a lot of people travel. We make sure the taxi industry operates in a very efficient way,” PickMe CEO Jiffry Zulfer said.
He believes the new inclusion would give PickMe a cutting-edge advantage while supporting its varied customer base.
Giving an overview of how the technology works, he said, “On our smartphone app, we have a passenger app and a driver’s app, which allow us to connect to the closest drive to the passenger. So when the customer opens the app, he can see all the taxis around him.
What happens through this app is, through GPS and satellites, we look at all the taxis around you, also locate the customer. So when the customer makes a request, we send the request to the closest taxi, of course then the driver will accept and then comes to the destination of the passenger.”
Availability wise, he said that they have moved up to Katunayake. But the dominance is in Colombo 24/7 and the company is planning to broaden its services to the rest of the country by next year.
With regard to the prices, the CEO said their prices are competitive; they are not the lowest or the highest.
“For example, our average fare on a three-wheeler is Rs.35, a mini car is Rs.45 and the sedan car is Rs.60,” he said.The app has an option called ETA, which allows the passengers to share their trip details, including estimated time of arrival, pickup time and location, taxi details and route taken.
He said, “ETA is to share your journey with someone you know. For example, say you are going home after work and you want to share it with your mother. So your mother can see you are coming home through the app. Thus, when you are in a journey you can share your journey with your loved one.”
He pointed out that a big problem faced in the taxi industry is the ‘lost mileage’ to the drivers.
“The drivers in Sri Lanka prior to PickMe had a huge issue. They had something called the lost mileage. If you take a vehicle which drives for 5,000 kilometres for a month, 2000 kilometres of that are conceded as a lost mileage. This is the mileage where they have to go to pick up a passenger or the mileage where they have to go around the city looking for passengers. With our technology, the driver does not have to travel a large distance to pick the customer,” he said.
“We have over 1,000 customers and 1000 drivers in our platform now; also we have moved to 1,000 passengers on a daily basis,” he said clarifying about their performance so far.When compared to the recently introduced American-based Uber taxi service, he said the most significant difference between Uber and PickMe is the ‘live meter’.
“We have a live meter. Uber does not have it. We show the passengers a live picture on how much he/she has to spend. So we don’t want to hide that information from the passenger. Because the technology we use is GPS, we use accurate and exact information of the business,” he said.
He noted that they understand the local industry and the local customer and they came up with a product that suits the Sri Lankan economy.
Commenting on the drivers he said they are concerned about them as they do background checks on drivers.
“We ask the police report, Grama Sewaka letter, billing proof and driving licence. We have a system that keeps information updated. For example, if the insurance is expiring, we remind the driver that this document is expired, so he needs to renew. Also, we have a star rating system, where we get the customer’s feedback. We maintain a driver’s profile,” he said.
“We have a criteria for the quality of vehicles; we ensure we get the good quality vehicles,” he added.
The app can be downloaded on iOS, Android and Window smartphones.