CHENNAI: In the face of increasing competition from entrants, Fast Track, among the pioneers of radio taxi in Chennai and the one with the biggest fleet, has joined the price war.
The company rolled out the ‘economy cab’ service where customers pay `11 per km for a smaller car at a press conference on Monday. “We are eating into the market of autos and luring them to our taxi service with this offer,” said M Prabu, chairman of Fast Track. Explaining the potential, Prabu said Chennai has only around 10,000 taxis and around 70,000 autos while Mumbai has around one lakh taxis.
With this offer, four persons with luggage can fit into a small car, whereas an auto would accommodate only three, Prabu said. Conceding that this would eat into their profit margin despite decreasing oil prices, Prabu said that the consumer will be the ultimate beneficiary.
However, there is a catch. The `11 per km will be applicable after the minimum fare of `100 for the first three kilometres.
While this is lower than other rates offered by other call taxis and the government-fixed fare for autos in Chennai — both `12 per km — the other operators like NTL and Ola charge a minimum of `100 for the first five kilometres. Calculations show that for a journey of 10 km, Fast Track will charge `177 (`100 for initial 3 kms + `77 at `11/km for 7 kms), whereas NTL and OLA charge `160. If the journey is 20 km, Fast Track would charge `287 (`100 + `187) while the others charge `280. The longer the journey, the more economical a Fast Track cab will be. For short distances though, they are not as economical.
The company announced greater privacy measures with telephone numbers of customers being hidden from drivers. This service is especially important for women and VIPs. The driver will only be connected through a conference set up by the customer care service, thus preventing the driver from accessing the customer’s number. No extra charge will be levied for the service.
Fast Track has a fleet of around 9,500 taxis in Tamil Nadu with 6,000 of them in Chennai. They also operate taxis in other cities like Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Bangalore, Pune and Kochi.