Thiruvananthapuram: Seeking to counter the fast growth and increasing popularity of corporate online cab service providers like Uber and Ola, the CPI-M in Kerala is getting ready to launch 'call-taxi' and 'call-auto rickshaw' services in the state.
The party, which had strongly opposed the arrival of corporate online cabs into the state, is aiming to provide a reliable and professional 'desi' alternative to the 'money- spinning" corporate giants.
The Left party had opposed arrival of corporate groups in the taxi service sector, citing that it would badly affect the existence of conventional cab providers.
As part of the new plan, the existing ordinary taxi and auto service providers, irrespective of party and union background, would be given professional training, software solutions and technical support to offer online services.
A senior CPI-M leader said the party would help get the conventional taxi drivers bank loans also to upgrade their facilities to compete with the corporate companies.
"CPI-M is not directly launching 'call taxi' services, but we are trying to provide all technical support to help our conventional cab providers to be more professional to compete with the corporate cab companies," P Rajeev, former Rajya Sabha MP and CPI-M state committee member, told PTI.
The leader, who spearheaded the successful organic farming initiative of the party, said they planned to launch the 'desi' call-taxi and call-auto rickshaws in Kochi next month on an experimental basis.
"Once the pilot programme turns out to be a success, it will be expanded to other parts of the state," he said.
He said the 'desi' call-taxi cabs would provide all high quality services similar to the corporate groups, ranging from online booking facilities to GPS-enabled vehicles.
"Our drivers will be given training to mould themselves to be more professional in their behaviour. There are also plans to train them to improve their English speaking skills. Our charges will be according to government rates," he said.
Rating system would also be introduced to the desi call taxis to evaluate quality of services they provide.
A call-taxi provider, with five star rating, would be the one who meets all quality and safety requirements, he said.
He said corporate cabs like Uber are posing a "great threat" to conventional service providers not just in the state but across the world.
"The corporate groups are pumping money into their products. We fear that the conventional cab services will disappear forever at the end of the competition. Though they are charging minimal rates now, it will be hiked in the near future," he said.
The local call-taxi and autorickshaws are expected to be a practical solution to check the corporate growth in the industry, the leader added.