Ola! Book a Cab with a Smartphone App

Ola Cabs lets users book the closest available cab with just one touch, as seen in this screenshot of the company’s iPhone app. Photo via iTunes.

This blog post is a part of the catalyzing new mobility program and receives support from The Rockefeller Foundation.

The latest development in radio cab services in India is a recently launched free downloadable smartphone app by Ola Cabs. The easy-to-use, one-touch interface allows users to book the nearest cab and receive instant confirmation of the booking, along with the driver’s name, phone number, vehicle type and number. The customer can also track the real-time movement of the cab via the map on the application. Traffic alerts from various sources are used to guide the drivers to the destination in the shortest possible time.

At present, the application is available for Android and iPhone, and it is the first of its kind in India. The Blackberry version will be made available soon. Ola Cabs currently runs services in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, and the company has ambitious aims to expand to 10 cities by the end of the year. The Ola Cabs application uses “heat maps” to manage demand and supply, tracking the customers’ GPS location and determining the nearest cab and how long it would take to get to that location.

Ola Cabs does not own its own fleet of cars, but rather, it is an aggregator that uses the services of smaller private cab operators with an ownership of two to five cabs. The company has a stringent selection process and only approves the use of cabs that meet their defined standards. The company periodically conducts service audits, trains and certifies drivers, and conducts thorough background checks of both operators and drivers before partnering with them. Ola Cabs’ CEO and Co-Founder Bhavish Aggarwal said the company’s vision is to “integrate car transportation, be it point-to-point services within a city, hour-based rental services, or outstation travel, onto a technology platform, ensuing convenient, transparent, and quick service fulfilment for the customer.”

The pricing is slightly higher than other dial-a-cab services like Meru and Tab Cabs, whose daytime fare is Rs. 24 (US$0.43) for the first kilometer, and Rs. 17 (US$0.30) for every subsequent kilometer traveled.  Ola Cabs charges a minimum fare of Rs. 100 (US$1.81) for the booking, and Rs. 18 (US$0.32) for every kilometer traveled after the first five kilometers. The company assures “convenience, quality and control” and a hassle-free travel experience, using innovative technology to address the growing problem of the unreliability of cab services in Indian cities.

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