Taxi app coming for WestmorelandFriday, July 23, 2021
BY KIMBERLEY PEDDIE
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Two young men from western Jamaica have decided to tap into the app-based taxi service after being given the green light by the transport ministry to operate. PICKMIUP will be setting up shop in Westmoreland come next week, followed by an official launch in September.
Moses Chybar and Yohann Townsend are the masterminds behind the venture and have carved out plans to ensure they are on the right side of the law. The Transport Authority requires that drivers who offer their services via these apps operate licensed public passenger vehicles.
Chybar told the Jamaica Observer that PICKMIUP will be solely engaging existing taxi drivers in Westmoreland so they can earn additional income by working with the new company.
“The main function that we are bringing to the market is to create a linkage between existing drivers and passengers, to make public transportation much easier and convenient for customers,” explained the young entrepreneur.
Chybar explained that growing up seeing his parents run their own business inspired him to want to create ventures of his own. A particular experience in university gave him the idea for PICKMIUP.
“There was a day when, on the way to exams, it was raining heavily and it was difficult to get transportation,” shared the 24-year-old.
He was soaking wet when he arrived at the examination centre and he was determined not to have that experience again. He came up with the idea of launching the app and shared the concept with his friend Townsend, who was very receptive.The two had first met at The University of the West Indies— Western Campus where Chybar was doing a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship and Townsend was studying economics. They worked on the idea for the last two years.
“[This type of service is] really something that is essential and something that is needed in Jamaica, because there are too many times when it's inconvenient [to get a taxi],” a passionate Townsend told the Observer.
There are several other local companies offering similar services and US-based Uber recently entered the local market, but the 23-year-old said there is still a gap in the market, especially in Westmoreland.
Once customers download the app and provide their debit or credit card information, they may input their location and destination to receive details on the fare, a picture of the driver and the driver's licence plate. After the customer confirms the request, a nearby driver will then be alerted. The app provides real-time tracking, so customers will have the luxury of sharing their location with friends and families.
For customers that may be concerned about the security of their banking information, Chybar said, an international-based company operates their card system, via the app. “Customers' card banking information are processed through a payment gateway provider called First Atlantic Commerce,” he said. “The card information goes directly through them and is linked directly to our local banks.” He added that customers can rest assure that their card information will be kept safe, and at no point in time does PICKMIUP have access to their banking details.
Since no cash is exchanged between drivers and passengers, he believes this will create a safer environment for both. He added, however, that there are plans to introduce a wallet service in the near future, for non-cardholders. The partners are hoping the safety features and convenience will convince customers to use their services though the fares are very high compared to regular route taxis. According to Chybar, it will cost their customers roughly $1,700 to get from Savanna-la-Mar to Grange Hill. A regular cab costs $150.
“There is a base fare for the first three kilometres. After the first kilometre, there is a fee per kilometre until it reaches 10 kilometres,” he explained.
Despite the huge gab between their fares and what customers would pay regular cabs, both young men are convinced their idea is workable. Chybar is confident their business will stand out as it will provide excellent customer service that cannot be found anywhere else in the industry.
They are now inviting drivers to sign up. Their long-term goal is to expand islandwide.
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