Some Malaysians have a negative impression of taxi drivers—an impression that first pushed the public towards ride-hailing services.
Certain taxi drivers did not improve this impression when they resorted to violence to thwart ride-hailing’s growing popularity.
Things have now been relatively quiet on the taxi front, but one can imagine that their situation hasn’t improved much since then.
PickNGO enters the space with this history echoing in the background, following in the footsteps of previous taxi-hailing apps like JomTaxi, GrabTaxi, MesraCab (developed by taxi drivers) to the now-defunct EasyTaxi Malaysia.
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According to the team, they’ve managed to work out collaborations with major taxi companies, giving them access to a pool of 10,000 taxis all over Klang Valley.
“The taxi drivers are full-time drivers, ensuring there is a consistent stream of taxis on the road to pick up passengers throughout the day. These are the defining points that set us apart from other ride-sharing apps in the market,” said Valerie Chan, Director of PICKnGo when asked how they would stand apart from ride-hailing apps like Uber or Grab.
“We have always known that this will be the direction the industry will go, especially with the advancement of the digital era,” said Valerie in a press release.
An SOS Button & No Surging
The taxis are all insured by participating cab companies, and most importantly, the team is expecting to roll out an SOS button by the end of July.
And to top all of that off, PICKnGO will also charge consistent, metered rates—no surges.
“PICKnGo can have surge-less charges as taxi rates are always adjusted from time to time by SPAD to address increasing expenses such as maintenance, inspection, insurance and cost of living. As such, it is sustainable especially since taxis can step up when other providers charge high-surge pricing.”
Part of the appeal of ride-hailing was for how much cheaper they were from taxis, but this did necessitate them into surging their prices after a certain point of market saturation.
But if these taxis can manage to offer consistent rates that average out to be cheaper during peak hours, they might stand a competitive chance against non-taxi apps too.
How It Works
Taking a leaf out of already-established platforms, a cursory glance indicates that it functions more or less like its popular ride-hailing competitors.
- connect you to a taxi driver directly
- allow users access to the driver’s profile
- see exactly where the taxi driver is and when they will arrive
The Question Of Safety
It’s an age-old question that has plagued ride-hailing apps fairly recently in Malaysia, but the frequency was alarming enough to spur SPAD into ruling for SOS buttons on ride-hailing.
It seems that PICKnGO will have this covered in July, but safety is more than just a button at the first sign of danger.
PICKnGO’s team told us that they will be doing the first round of screening themselves before they usher in trainers to produce qualified taxi drivers up to their standards.
That being said, PICKnGO will be leaving the bulk of the background checks into the hands of SPAD. This will hopefully reduce any chances of unwanted situations or unsavoury drivers from joining their fold.
The “reputation” of taxi drivers may have been deterring customers from picking up taxi apps
As we briefly touched upon in the beginning, the app’s biggest contender will have to be the sour reputation that taxi drivers have in Malaysia.
We asked Valerie about this and how they would address it. She answered, “While we understand the feedback passengers have given us on their unfortunate experiences, we cannot ignore the many courteous and helpful Malaysian taxis out there.”
“It would be a disservice to the frontline tourism ambassadors as well as a demotivator to continue painting them in less than savoury light”.
Unfortunately, the few bad apples did manage to spoil the bunch. So Valerie leaves them with a rallying cry:
“We take every complaint received seriously and are currently in the midst of rebranding the taxi industry. We ask Malaysians to patiently support us in this endeavour.”
As step 1 of that endeavour, PICKnGO has “engaged trainers from reputable firms to conduct the rebranding exercise” as part of their driver training procedure.
And being in collaboration with major taxi companies, there is a possibility that they might be able to give taxis a new life under their app.
Since they’re not the first forward-thinkers to bring the idea of “taxi-hailing” to market in Malaysia, some might wonder—can they survive?
For me, it all depends on the exercise of branding.
If they’re able to counteract the stigma surrounding taxis and position PICKnGO as a trustworthy alternative to the overall ride-hailing scene, then I can definitely see them conquering making progress for taxi-hailing in Malaysia.
That being said, the stigma-fixing is going to be a long uphill battle for the team.
It’s not going to be easy. But considering the many silent honest taxi drivers slowly losing livelihoods here in Malaysia, it’s worth a shot.