Many tourist destinations, including Goa, face the difficulty of providing last-mile connections to hotels and effective intra-state transit. For visitors to quickly reach their hotels, the last-mile connection is essential, and reliable intra-state transit alternatives improve the overall travel experience.
Tourists in Goa have faced overcharging, pressure to use particular taxi services and, much worse, use of force by local taxi drivers. These are all ongoing problems.
With the launch of the GoaMiles app-based service five years ago, the government started making an effort to offer a variety of options for travel within the state. The Goa Taxi app, which works in accordance with prices announced by the government, was introduced as a result of resistance to local taxi drivers’ unions.
Visitors can use the coaches offered by Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited for last-mile transportation from both airports in Goa.
A limited service is also provided from Manohar International Airport in Mopa by the international app-based taxi aggregator, Uber. For many years, rent-a-car services have been available in Goa, providing ease of travel to tourists.
Nevertheless, the same age-old issue continues where the local taxi drivers fear that business may slip out of their hands.
While their fear is genuine, they too should realise how rude they get when a tourist approaches them for transport requirements. Undoubtedly the local taxi drivers cannot be replaced.
Local taxi drivers typically have an in-depth knowledge of the area, including shortcuts, hidden gems, and the best routes to reach various destinations.
They can provide valuable insights and recommendations to tourists. Not just that, the local drivers can offer a personalised and friendly service, often going the extra mile to assist tourists with their needs, including carrying luggage, offering information about local attractions, and ensuring a comfortable ride.
Local taxi services, especially in Goa, are often readily available making it convenient for tourists to find transportation quickly. Many local taxi drivers accept cash payments, which can be convenient for tourists who prefer not to use digital payment methods.
Government taxi apps
At the same time, government taxi apps assure us, local tourists and foreign tourists, transparent pricing with rates that are government-notified. This can help prevent overcharging and ensure fairness for tourists.
These apps have safety features, such as driver background checks and GPS tracking, which can enhance passenger safety. Additionally, there is accountability through the app platform, as both drivers and passengers can rate each other.
Government apps usually facilitate cashless transactions, which can be convenient and secure for tourists. This also reduces the risk of disputes over fares.
App-based services often provide efficient booking and tracking options, allowing tourists to request rides and monitor their arrival in real-time. Government-regulated apps can ensure a certain level of service quality and adherence to traffic rules and etiquette standards.
A balanced approach
In many cases, a balanced approach that allows both local taxi drivers and app-based services to coexist can be beneficial for tourists.
Regulatory frameworks can be established to ensure fair competition and consumer protection.
What the local taxi drivers must do instead of getting anxious about their business, is register themselves on the government-run apps, and have access to a larger customer base.
The government should further implement a system where passengers can choose between government-run and local taxi drivers, based on their preferences and priorities.
Also, the government could establish a revenue-sharing model where a portion of the fare paid through the government-run apps goes to the local taxi driver, ensuring they are compensated fairly for their services. In this way, it would be a win-win situation for both stakeholders.
Another fear that disturbs the local taxi drivers is the entry of outsiders into their local business, which I believe is an authentic concern given that the local businessmen have the burden of loans and need to make a living in the taxi business.
The government needs to ensure that the encroachment doesn’t take place.
Nevertheless, we must remember that transportation services in tourist destinations like ours are essential for providing visitors with a convenient and efficient means to explore and access attractions.
They enhance the overall travel experience by allowing tourists to access destinations easily, efficiently and safely. The availability and variety of transportation options significantly contribute to a destination's appeal. Thus, unitedly we ought to work out a solution right before the season starts to boom.