Pune: Almost a year ago, the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Pune announced the plan to launch a new autorickshaw app for commuters. The plan remained on paper for a long time. Finally, the Autorickshaw Malak-Chalak Sanghathana launched the ‘Rickshaw App’ for commuters in the city recently.
The app is compatible with the app-based cab and autorickshaw service providers in the city.
The ‘Rickshaw App’ has been developed by Tetrakalp and aims to provide aggregator service exclusively to autorickshaws and help them get customers in the increasingly competitive public transport market.
An event was organised at Patrakar Bhavan in Navi Peth, where the ‘Rickshaw App’ was formally inaugurated in the presence of civic activist and Sajag Nagrik Manch President Vivek Velankar, Grahak Peth President Suryakant Pathak and transport activist Baba Shinde.
Over 50 rickshaw drivers were present at the event. Rahul Shitole, who developed the app, is an engineering student and son of an autorickshaw driver.
“The app adopts the same model as is being used by other service aggregators. There are a few important differences though. Firstly, we are exclusively catering to autorickshaws and do not deal with cabs as other established players do. The other important aspect is rickshaw drivers are involved in decision making and designing the product, along with the firm. In fact, whatever revenue we will get as the service charge for usage of the app by customers, a large chunk of it will be spent on welfare of the rickshaw drivers by providing them mediclaim, third party insurance of the vehicle and maintenance allowance,” said Shitole
At the event, transport activist Baba Shinde said that although the RTO and State government had promised some time ago that they would develop a mobile application for rickshaw drivers, nothing has been in this regard till date.
“We are glad that a rickshaw driver’s son has used his education and expertise to come up with this much-needed app,” said Shinde.
Velankar said, “There has been a long-standing demand for an aggregator app for autorickshaws as well. Now that, this app is being launched, it will make the autorickshaw service more efficient and easy to use and will help in changing the perspective of the people towards autorickshaws.”
Suryakant Pathak said, “One of the flagship programmes of the Modi government was the ‘Make in India’ initiative, but in the Indian market transport aggregator, multinationals were reaping the benefits of the digital wave. With this new app, the benefits of technology will truly help in achieving ‘Make in India’.”
Successful pilot project
A pilot for the app was started in May 2018 with the help of 35 auto-rickshaws in the city. With the online booking and payment, the app also provides to those who have ordinary mobile phones the booking option as well as an option to book the ride by calling on a toll-free number for those who can’t use a mobile app. A text message will be sent to the passengers giving full details such as the driver’s name, his mobile number, the registration number of autorickshaw and a link of payment mode. The app is integrated with multiple e-wallets such as debit/credit card payment, net banking payment, Paytm, BHIM and others. ‘Rickshaw App’ is available in Google Play Store.