Coming from people who drive for a living and love it, this may seem a bit strange: Driving in India's metropolitan cities, or one of many emerging B-towns has become a pain! And we can't think of a better way of putting it. Driving is supposed to be therapy and not a litmus test of your endurance. But look at the public transport alternative we have. Of course we'd love a helicopter for our daily commutes to work, but outlandish whims aside - trains, trams, metros and buses can only get you to an area, beyond which to get to your doorstep you need to rely on our taxi system. The system is archaic, unregulated, the drivers are outright rude and sometimes the experience is altogether excruciating.
Phew. Having gotten that out of our system, we are proud to report that times are changing now. Internet-based cab services have made travelling within our congested cities not just tolerable but even productive. Most of you are of course already using it, but for those who are still slaves to the mercies of our old cab system - read on. Here's what you're missing out on, and why you need to change.
For representative purposes, we've chosen Ola Prime as our medium of transport. It starts with a smart phone App - of course you need a smart phone, with either a windows, android or an IOS operating system. From the Microsoft Store, or the Android Play Store, or the Apple App Store - you can download the Ola App for free. If someone has referred the app to you, use the code and they get a free ride! You can likewise get your free ride if you refer the service to someone else - just get them to use your code when registering. For cashless travel, simply put in your bank details - of course it's very safe. Well at least as safe as online shopping. And you're good to go.
Sign in to the Ola App. The map on the app shows you the nearest cab (admit it, we're getting good at rhyming). You can choose the different categories based on your comfort preferences, budget or sometimes simply availability. Once you've placed your request, the closest cab picks you up within minutes as the driver receives turn-by-turn navigation to your exact coordinates. And there you go: no waiting on the side of the road, trying desperately and sometimes borderline humiliatingly, hailing cabs. With these internet-based cabs you get a pickup at your door-step.
Once you get into your air-conditioned cab, you need to feed in your destination on your app, and the driver gets the co-ordinates on his app. No question of him misguiding you, or taking the long route, or not finding his your way to your destination. He simply has to follow his navigation. You can get on with your 9gag posts, instagramming, snapchatting and what have you. The driver doesn't have to bother you for the directions. You get charged on the distance, oh and no meter for him to tamper with either. And speaking of social media...
Ola Prime is equipped with Ola's proprietary auto-connect Wi-Fi feature that connects users to a secure Wi-Fi network in-cab without having to enter credentials every single time. We are living in some Internet of Cab days! As a global first, the auto-connect Wi-Fi experience with a one-time authentication, allows users to logon to Ola's network in-cab without having to key in login credentials and passwords in subsequent rides. This allows for users to stay connected with Ola's secure network whenever they take a ride, connecting to networks just like they would when they are home or at work. So your journeys to and fro work or meetings can actually serve to be far more productive. Or you can just watch an episode of John Oliver or Game of Thrones - whatever floats your boat. In fact, this article was written in the time we rode from Ballard Estate to Bandra during peak traffic! See what we mean?
Now if you're a foodie, you have to have heard of the Ola Prime Restaurant Week. If not, we've got you covered. The Restaurant Week is a celebration of the finest culinary delights at some of the country's 100+ best formal dining restaurants through a three-course prix fixe menu at a fraction of the price it would normally cost. The Restaurant Week will run simultaneously across Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai from the 22nd of April to the 1st of May. And guess what, Ola Prime is offering complementary ride to and from the restaurant during the Restaurant Week. Say you've had a few drinks to accompany that excellent meal - a good chef will insist on the right drink to accompany your choice of food. And surely, you know the perils of drinking and driving. (Shame on you, if you don't). Don't bother. Book a cab online.
Another big question that services like Ola solve is that of safety. You can send your journey details with a family member or a friend and they can track your real time movement. You can also send them an SOS in case of emergencies. Other security features 24x7 Customer Support and In-trip feedback are also available. The drivers too are all vetted unlike regular cab services. If your driver is a fab one like ours, do not forget to leave a five-star rating like I did. You may argue about the one off incident that has made news, but safety measures are always 100% better than none at all. As Professor Moody of the Harry Potter fame would say, the only foolproof solution is Constant Vigilance!" And that ladies and gentlemen is why, if you're not already using modern internet based cab services, you should be.