Tootle: A ridesharing app to solve your travel woesDon’t have your own vehicle? Tired of squeezing inside crowded public vehicles? And cannot always afford to take a taxi?
Don’t have your own vehicle? Tired of squeezing inside crowded public vehicles? And cannot always afford to take a taxi?
Tootle is an app which brings two-wheelers to your doorsteps and drops you at your destination. This app basically plays the role of a matchmaker between people who need rides on two-wheelers and those who are willing to offer rides from 8 am to 8 pm inside the Kathmandu Valley.
To avail this service, all you need to do is log in to Tootle, which is currently available on Android devices only, and select your destination. The app then shows motorbikes in the vicinity that are willing to offer you a ride. Once the two-wheeler driver agrees, the person picks you up from your location and drops you off at your destination. You can either pay cash or with Tootle balance which can be topped up using online payment platform, eSewa.
New users of Tootle get a balance of Rs200 for free. Every ride of first 3 km on Tootle costs Rs60; each km of travel then costs Rs18 for up to 3 km; per km of ride then costs Rs25. This means travelling 10 km on a Tootle motorbike will costs you Rs214. This is far more economic than travelling the same distance on a taxi which will cost you over Rs400.
“Tootle is really handy for me,” says 17-year-old Thinley Wangchuk, who has been using the app for the last two months. “It helps me avoid hassles related to public vehicles and is also cheap.”
Tootle was launched in January by a group of youngsters conducting researches on location-based online platforms. Initially, the team—Aayush Subedi, Princi Koirala, Bina Laxmi Shrestha, Sixit Bhatta and few others—designed an app that could track Sajha buses. But “the state-owned transport company did not show much interest” in the app. Later, the same group decided to design a ride-hailing app like Uber, Lyft and Ola. These youngsters, however, did not focus on providing car service like Uber or Ola, because they knew introduction of a service that does not suit the market needs would not yield favourable outcomes.
“There are a lot of two-wheelers in the valley,” says Subedi, one of the inventors of Tootle who now serves as mobile service partner at the company. He was referring to over 800,000 motorbikes registered in the Valley. And they wanted to capitalise on this. “Our aim is to promote ride sharing culture and digital interactions in the country. This initiative, we believe, will create jobs too,” says Sixit Bhatta, another co-founder of Tootle.
So far, over 2,000 people have signed up to work as drivers for Tootle. It also has a client base of 7,000-8,000 who take 60-70 rides per day.
The company allows anyone with a two-wheeler to work as a driver. But the person has to go through a screening process, which includes submission of a copy of driving license and a recent photograph. The company also allows clients to rate the drivers, who can pocket around 64 percent of the fare after deducting government taxes and Tootle commission. Tootle takes a commission equivalent to 20 percent of the fare from drivers.
“Tootle has offered a platform to make productive use of our time,” says Mahiem Agrawal, a registered Tootle driver. “If I’m going somewhere, I can always give a lift and earn some money. It is a win-win for both me and the client.”
Agrawal claims people can earn up to Rs800 a day if they drive throughout the day.
Tottle has definitely created some kind disruption in the domestic online ride-hailing market, which has not even started to crawl. But there are those who do not like the idea of taking rides on a two-wheeler in the Valley, which is filled with potholes and reckless drivers.
“Personally, I don’t like to take a motorbike ride from a stranger,” says Saurav Maharjan, a 20-year old MBA student. “Plus, riding on a bike in the Valley is not safe.”
Tootle is grappling with other problems as well. The users of his app frequently complain that they have to wait for a long time even after getting confirmation about the ride. Some of these users also have not been able to find adequate drivers willing to offer rides to the outskirts of the Valley.
“What people need to understand is that we are in our infancy,” says Subedi. “Yet we are doing our best to cater quality service and expand beyond the Valley as well.” Tootle frequently calls clients for feedbacks and interacts with them during rides too. “We care about our customers, because it’s not only an app that we are talking about,” says Bhatta. “It is a philosophy we want to develop.”