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I have been Pathao Rides quite regularly since two months ago when a friend first introduced me to it through their facebook group. Their app was still in the beta phase and their operations was just starting to scale up. However, after having availed the service for the first time during the early stages, it never was apparent that it was still in its beta testing phase. It felt holistic, simple and well thought out; it felt like the obvious solution to a problem that millions have been facing on a daily basis for so long.
Zipping through traffic
The core problem with Dhaka’s transportation system is undoubtedly traffic congestion. In an age where time is the most invaluable resource available, saving time essentially saves money. Pathao does exactly that with its choice of vehicle, motorbikes, the fastest mode of transportation currently available in traffic ridden Dhaka.
With pathao, you can cut through long lines of cars and busses all the way to the front of the line. I saw at least a 25% decrease, personally, in my journey time every time I used Pathao. This 25% time is something you can not put a price on.
Pathao has an excellent pricing strategy that has worked out very well for them so far. It is important to keep in mind that Pathao’s pricing model must make sure
(i) that they can recuperate the investment in the motor cycles and the platform,
(ii) that they can pay fixed salaries to the management and office staff and that they can pay the riders in a manner that would ensure a fixed monthly payment and also a variable payment linked to the number of rides and quality of service,
(iii) that their prices seem more attractive than the traditional alternatives like CNG or taxis or the more recent alternatives like Uber.
The pricing is 1 taka per 2 minutes, 10 taka per kilometer and 20 taka fixed base fare. At this rate, Pathao is usually, 20-30% cheaper than CNG’s if they agree to follow the meter (which happens only on Fridays and during long holidays) and usually half the CNG fare if they bargain a fixed rate or charge an extra 30 tk on top of the meter fare.
Superb customer service
What makes pathao truly stand out from the any other mode of transportation is the customer service and courtesy that the riders show. Firstly, customer service. If you’ve cancelled a few rides within a short period of time on the app, a call center executive will call you and ask if you are facing trouble with the app and will try to book a ride for you manually. This has happened more than a few times with me, consistently. Utterly impressive.
Secondly, the best behaved riders. From the time when you first get a call from a Pathao rider, it becomes obvious that they are well educated or at least well mannered and are trained well enough to put your convenience first and everything else second. I once arrived at my workplace early in the morning with a large 500 tk bill. The fare was 100 tk and the rider did not have a change for the 500 tk bill for which he did apologize. I went to a nearby store to look for change only to discover it hadn’t opened yet. The rider realized I was getting late for work so he thoughtfully offered to get the change and then call me once he got a change. This is something you can never expect from any other transportation medium.
Pathao riders are all employees of Pathao meaning that the riders are not crowdsourced, so to speak, as is the case with Uber or Share a Motorcycle. This essentially means that the riders have gone through a proper background check before being employed and that you would be able to trust them to not be muggers in disguise.
Pathao is the ultimate solution to the problem students and working class people in the city have been facing since forever. It is convenient, fast, cheap and secure, a combination that most other methods, modern or conventional, fail to crack. Pathao is destined to get popular. What would be interesting to see is that if Pathao can maintain its quality of service as it scales up further to meet demand.
IMAGE CREDITS: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Pathao/