THINGS are changing rapidly on the streets of Phnom Penh as a tuk-tuk hailing mobile application was launched there recently hot on the heels of the introduction of the first fleet of metered tuk-tuks with the former being popular with foreigners.
Called PassApp Taxi, this app was developed by a US company and introduced to the Cambodian capital by an unhappy passenger who wants every tuk-tuk ride in the city to be an easy, stress-free experience, Channel News Asia said.
“Nobody wants to bargain. Everyone wants to have an easy ride and pay according to how far they go,” said the 34-year-old owner from Kampong Cham, Pop Nimol.
Like many commuters, the father-of-one is fed up with poor tuk-tuk services. Some drivers have been rude to him. Others refused to take him on because he was not willing to pay extra during rush hour. “They’d say, if you can’t pay this price – which is very expensive – I’ll leave now.
“After experiencing this a few times, I decided ‘no more’.”
Just weeks after the rollout, PassApp Taxi has already gained some 200 users. More than 100 tuk-tuk drivers have completed the registration and the number of passengers is on the rise.
“About 20 people are using the app each day. Most of them are foreigners,” Nimol said.
Meanwhile back in August, a fleet of metered-tuk-tuks rolled into Phnom Penh and started competing against the normal tuk-tuks there which are actually a detachable carriage pulled by a motorbike, Phnom Penh Post said.
It was EZ Go company which launched these metered vehicles with the cost of a ride being determined by standardized distance-based rates thus avoiding the need to negotiate fares and preventing drivers from gouging customers – a common complaint by tourists
“I think the price of our rides is very low for customers, and it is a standardized price so we can’t cheat our customers,” EZ Go owner Top Nimol said. “We also don’t charge any additional fees for traffic jams because our fares are based on distance and not time.”
EZ Go owns all of its tuk-tuks and offers its drivers the choice to either work for a salary or rent the vehicles for $7 a day. Nimol also grants bonus incentives for his salaried workers once they reach a certain target of passenger pickups.
“Many of the drivers here can earn more than $200 per month,” he said. “Those who reach certain targets and perform well on the job can earn nearly $300 per month.”
Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Cambodia’s largest tuk-tuk association, says he is both worried and intrigued by the metered tuk-tuk concept.
“We are studying the possibility of equipping meters in our tuk-tuks in order to compete with these new market entrants,” he said. “But we have encountered many challenges, because it has been hard to find drivers willing to try it.”
The Bajaj tuk-tuk model is assembled into a single piece and runs on LPG fuel making them more fuel efficient than standard petrol- or diesel-engine three-wheelers and this is helping their drivers to realize significant savings at the pump over time.
But their popularity among customers could owe to their nimbleness and comfort because the Indian models also have rear-wheel brakes and suspension, suggested motor enthusiast Hout Seriepanha, deputy manager of a Japan Motor motorbike shop.
“This makes it easier for it to turn and is safer for both the passenger and driver, but also more comfortable.”
Top: A Khmer tuk-tuk driver relaxing in his unmetered vehicle which are actually a detachable carriage pulled by a motorbike. Photo: Dion Hinchcliffe (CC-BY-SA-2.0)
Inset: A metered EZ Go tuk-tuk cruising along a Phnom Penh street. Photo: Phnom Penh Post
SOURCE: Channel News Asia’s Pichayada Promchertchoo and Phnom Penh Post’s Matthieu de Gaudemar and Hor Kimsay