Otaxi is back!
If you see me in person, you’d probably see the big smile on my face as I say that.
I’m still working on my license and thus has been very dependent on public transport. When I discovered Otaxi last year, it was a relief — the reasons I will specify one by one. But that love affair was cut-off just as immediately as it began. There were some issues they have to resolve with the relevant ministries but I was fortunate to have gotten hold of the number of one of the managing partners and he assured me that they will be back. They just can’t say when.
After almost six months of waiting, they finally re-emerged — along with it, their reliable and well-developed app.
Oman Observer’s location is not really ideal for getting a taxi. When your shift ends anytime from 4 pm to 10 pm, getting a taxi at Madinat al Ilam is a nightmare. There were times that I’d have to wait for friends to pick me up just because there were no taxis around.
Otaxi offers the convenience I needed and I was accustomed to back in my home country. In the Philippines, we have Grab and Uber. With the dreadful traffic in the capital, it wasn’t ideal to own a car. Parking fees were also very expensive and it was more logical to rely on services of Grab and Uber to get to your destination.
For the uninitiated, Grab and Uber are ride-hailing apps. Most of them are private cars and with permission from the government, private car owners are able to use their vehicles for public transport.
In Otaxi’s case, they are organising and making better the services offered by existing orange taxis. Through the Otaxi app, one can book a ride and have them pick you up right at your doorsteps. This means no waiting on the side of the street when the temperature is a nasty 40 degrees Celsius or your location is too far from the main road.
Perhaps it’s because they’d been in the country and developing the app for over five years that their services are usually very excellent. The app has an upgraded widget, so even if you are not connected to the internet, as long as you were already booked, the driver can still find you because there is a map that shows your real-time location including that of the driver. The app also has a timer which tells you how many minutes you have to wait.
The best characteristic of the app for me is that it has an improved fare calculation algorithm. That means that as an app user, you have the power to make a logical decision because before you even book the ride, you can already see how much you need to pay.
The app was also smartly designed. You can pre-book a ride and it gives you a notification if there are no drivers in the area. If you are canceling the trip, it asks for the reason which to me, is a personal touch that makes it very endearing.
Regardless of who the driver that gets to pick me up, there is a general feeling that there are a camaraderie and brotherhood that exist between the drivers. I’ve used the app several dozens of times before its cancellation and even today, the drivers are not only courteous, they are engaging.
On the security side, you automatically get the information of the driver, his photo and the car’s information when you book the ride. One of the drivers who used to pick me up shared that they went through a vetting process and part of their responsibility is ensuring that they make the passengers feel safe and secure.
To confirm that your taxi is coming, other than the confirmation from the app, you also get an SMS or a call from the driver asking if you are pushing through with the ride. If they will be late, they give you a heads up especially when they are caught in a traffic jam.
It’s difficult for me to be impressed with app services. And for sure, other users want more options for their taxi app. To me right now, however, Otaxi’s services is one of the best. I haven’t seen the flaw yet but if there is in fact, with the open attitude not only of the driver but those that manage the app, I’m sure they will be listening to the pulse of their passengers.
Perhaps some would say that I am giving Otaxi a glowing recommendation. And I’d readily admit that I am. When you see something good, you want to make better and providing positive feedback and constructive criticism is the best to go.
I’d like Otaxi to know that they have a fan in me and I am one of the many rooting for them to get things right. In Oman where technology is still evolving and growing, it’s nice to see that someone is already providing what to me is a decent world-class service.
I really do hope that Otaxi’s absence made them stronger. Their re-emergence I’m sure is a good news for many.