By Tapiwa Matthew Mutisi
Those of you’ve who’ve never used Vaya might be wondering why I am reviewing a taxi service on this website. But once you try Vaya, you’ll understand.
Cassava On Demand Services, a division of Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe – shortly to be listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) following its unbundling from Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, recently launched the much-anticipated Uber-type ‘Vaya Lift’ ride service.
Vaya is an on – demand mobile and web application focusing on moving goods and people from one point to another. Vaya is part of the Cumii on Demand business which provides real-time platforms to connect users to their nearest service provider, saving them time and money, and bringing them convenience through mobile apps.
Thanks to the Vaya vs taxi debate, one day down the line, we may have to tell our children about times when people used to flag down speeding cabs.
In the future, kids are likely to need the history lesson, because since 2009, the advent of ride-sharing with the likes of Uber or Lyft have created a disruptive change in the way people get around. In a way, ride-sharing has become the chosen taxi alternative, whether you’re in Harare, Boston, Lagos, Johannesburg, or any other cities across the world.
Apart from my own experience of using the service, also listening to the Head Of Operations – On Demand Service (Africa Markets) at Cumii International Eugine Gorimani keynote speech at the launch of Vaya in Harare a week ago he emphasised on the benefits that makes Vaya preferable to hailing a taxi.
But if you’re still not completely onboard with Vaya services, you’re probably wondering what sets them apart from the taxi industry. Well, keep reading, because we’re going to show you exactly what sets the service apart from taxis.
Affordability – Vaya vs Traditional Taxi?
Passengers are usually motivated to by cost. The cheaper; the better. However, Vaya has shown that you can get first class service at a cheap rate hence prompting more people to sign up for the service. The app offers a fare-estimate calculator that can give you a rough cost based on a distance-by-time algorithm.
At face value, Vaya’s pricing is significantly cheaper than taxis. Vaya lift pricing is up to 20 percent lower than traditional taxi fares, with average waiting times of just about 5 mins, for instance, Vaya Basic is $0.85/km whereas a traditional taxi is $1-$1,10/km.
A trip I used to pay $12 using a traditional taxi from the CBD town to my place of residence in Mainway Meadows has been significantly cut to $8.23.
Flexible – can pay directly using ecocash, cash or bank card.
Secure – Voucher Codes generated electronically, managed by company administrator and invoiced directly to the Business.
Honestly, how many of you were really and truly happy catching dangerously old, suspiciously stained, appallingly driven and vaguely sick-smelling taxis, and paying extortionate fares for the privilege? It was only a matter of time until someone came up with something better.
The Vaya aims to put the user’s experience back in focus. The rating platform has worked in establishing a code of customer service amongst drivers that many find it intriguing.
Vaya cars are generally fancier than many cabs. Vaya cab is cleaner and generally well-kept. Local taxi drivers have a hard time maintaining their vehicles due to high cost of obtaining an operator’s licence, vehicle licence fee, a route authority, and a certificate of fitness from VID.
Passenger Safety Using Vaya
When it comes to safety, it’s no secret that taxis have come under fire for years, with numerous high-profile cases surrounding theft and assault.
Therefore, in a bid to curb such mishaps, Vaya drivers are generally required to hold a state-based driver authority which usually involves criminal history and vehicle checks at CMED, as well as having appropriate insurances in place.
Speaking at the launch event, Head of Operations On Demand Services Eugene Gorimani also addressed issues of passenger personal safety and the conditions of Vaya Lift vehicles.
“Our drivers are clean – you know who they are, we know who they are – they’re vetted by our strong back office team. And we further go to the police to just make sure that we are giving you the safest ride. Other than that you (passenger) have got access to the panic button that is within the app itself. So what it entails is that if you get stuck somewhere, you don’t understand what is going on, you have got the ability to communicate with your friends and family at the touch of a button and they will know your current situation.”
Mr Gorimani also went on to further to explain another point which is of great value to the company – the driver rating option. He said, “this continuously gives us the access to always upgrade our service and always further coach our drivers and always make sure that we give you the right quality service.”
Therefore it certainly reveals that beyond the regulatory controls in the country, Vaya service have a range of different mechanisms in place to ensure passengers are safe.
No anonymity: Passengers are given the driver’s name, photo, vehicle information and contact number, and the trip is kept on record.
GPS tracking: Once your driver accepts your request, your trip is tracked via GPS on your phone and the driver’s. You are also able to share your ETA with friends or family so they can keep track of your ride.
Rating system: Drivers are anonymously reviewed by passengers on a scale of 1 to 5.
Overall, Vaya is considered to be the safer option, with drivers easier to track, identify and contact.
Convenience of Vaya
The best-selling point of a service like Vaya is its ease of use.
Before, you’d need to take your chances waving down a cab in the street. This was occasionally an exercise in patience and oftentimes in safety as well. Your other option was to call the taxi dispatch service to request a cab. Then, you had to roll the dice and hope that it wasn’t late (as so often happens) and that the cab would actually arrive.
Since those days, technology has advanced substantially, and your smartphone has become your best personal valet.
With the tap of a few buttons, Vaya can provide a pre-ride cost estimate, then dispatch a vehicle to your location complete with information such as arrival time, price, vehicle type, and a picture of your driver. Can a cab do that? I don’t think so.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, your driver’s rating is also shown. Unlike in a taxi, you can see what other passengers have thought about the driver’s customer service sensibilities.
In comparison, a given cab driver’s customer service fluency is unregulated and a crapshoot at best. This behooves a note about the quality of the vehicles.
These are all features you may have wished for in the past while sitting in a cab.
Between Vaya vs Taxi, Vaya Wins
So why should you consider using a transportation service such as Vaya instead of hailing a taxi?
Simply because it’s a better experience that doesn’t take additional hits to your wallet. With riders often arriving for a better price, vaya has established a user-friendly way to secure reliable and friendly rides.
If you’re in any way tech-savvy, it’s hard to go past the convenience of Vaya. Plus, you’re likely to get a clean car, a polite driver and be assured of them taking the most direct (and cheapest) route.
Now, you don’t have to bother walking up and down the block looking for an empty cab or sitting on hold with the dispatch service. In addition, you don’t have to worry about customer service taking a back seat while the driver takes you the “long way around” for a higher fare. You can tip and review your driver in private.
Finally, you can relax knowing your ride is on the way. You can even know when it will arrive. Vaya is the real-deal taxi alternative, sharpened by a better user experience.
But don’t get me wrong. I empathize with the taxi drivers, but the scenes of older players getting itchy is a scene we have seen many times. Surely the horse cart owners wouldn’t have liked it when cars started being used by all and sundry. Similarly, now we can see the same kind of contest taking place between traditional TV and the on-demand content industry led by the likes of Kwese iFlix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix.
Whenever the new kid on the block disrupts the way things are supposed to be, emotions seem to get the better of many of the old players. Instead of being upset with the new kid, these old players need to realize that the new kid could not have succeeded if they (the old players) had done their job right and met the needs of the customers in a better manner.
If you want to apply to be a Vaya Lift partner, or driver, all that one needs to do is to download the Vaya Partner App (the App used by Vaya drivers) or visit www.vayaafrica.com to download and complete the necessary requirements.