Meru Cabs, the radio cab provider launched its CarPool service across all 23 cities where their service is operational. This new service has been integrated into the existing ‘Meru Cabs’ Android mobile app with the iOS release soon to follow. The ride sharing feature is limited to personal cars. While Meru’s app does have multiple payment options, the CarPool service is currently limited to Paytm’s wallet service which does become a little inconvenient for those who aren’t using the said wallet service.
In order to use the service, one has to connect their Facebook profile with the app and also upload a copy of a valid PAN / AADHAR / Driver’s license. Only after these steps are completed, is the person allowed to share their car. At the press conference, it was mentioned that the identity verification is a manual process. The app also has an ICE (In Case of Emergency) button. Once registered and verified, the person willing to share his ride can post his travel route, time and other details pertaining to the ride. The person offering to share a ride is free to quote an amount depending upon the route and distance. However, they are shown a price bracket indicating what everyone else along the route is offering. A car owner can take a maximum of 3 other passengers along.
Those looking for a ride are shown all rides along the route. You are also afforded filters to narrow down search results based on time, gender and smoking preferences. It also features a ratings tab where you can rate your last ride. For safety reasons, this service will not be available from 10.30 P.M. to 4.00 A.M.
With the launch of Meru CarPool, a radio cab company is providing a carpool service on its existing platform. On being asked whether this ‘alternative’ travelling option would affect its primary business, Meru mentioned that they wanted to diversify the number of choices for its users. The service will be free for a period of three months after which Meru will be charging 10% of what the car owner makes.
Carpooling isn’t a new concept and a number of other companies as well as startups like CoYatri, BlaBlacar, Tripda, etc have been offering carpooling services in India for quite some time and some of them have grown to be quite popular. As of now, none of these services offer cab fare-splitting like what Uber offers in select American cities. In New York, Uber offers carpooling for their radio cabs, hence, reducing individual fares significantly. In a money conscious market like India, it would be interesting to see which service might introduce this concept. Carpooling requires a perfect blend of technology, understanding of consumer behaviour and security, and now that Meru has entered this market, it would be worth watching what it can do with such a platform given their large user base.