Let ZipGo Run
Let ZipGo Run
Dear fellow citizens of Bengaluru,
We are writing to explain the RTO issues that have prevented us from giving you a proper service over the last couple of weeks and to seek your support for our online petition to the Government of Karnataka to #LetZipGoRun.
We have already received 6,000 signatures, but if you haven't signed the petition yet, we request you to kindly spare a few minutes and do it over the weekend. We plan to send a printed copy of the petition to the Government on Monday.
ZipGo launched on August 11, 2015 with 10 buses and ferried a grand total of 12 people. However, our value proposition of app based booking, real-time tracking and guaranteed seating in a clean and air-conditioned vehicle at an economical price really resonated with Bengaluru. And the result was that we crossed 1,000 completed rides per day mark in less than 1 month since launch! That definitely is a record of sorts. We are not aware of any other service, in India or abroad, that crossed 1,000 transactions a day milestone in such a short time.
Such rapid adoption by the city validated the fact that Bengaluru desperately needs a solution like ZipGo that can help ease our daily commute. It took less than 4 months for the ZipGo app to cross 1 lakh downloads in Bengaluru.
Today, hundreds of drivers work very hard and through the maddening Bengaluru traffic to help thousands of commuters get to work and back home just a little more comfortably. These drivers are honest, hard working people and are earning a respectable livelihood by providing their services to you.
Our goal has been to create an alternative for our daily commute that is economical yet comfortable, convenient and reliable. A solution for all of us who find using a taxi everyday too expensive, public buses too crowded and driving in Bengaluru traffic a nightmare.
We started ZipGo because we saw a problem and wanted to make an attempt to solve it rather than just blame the government and authorities, or just continue to curse the traffic and the pollution. And today we need your help to continue working to achieve that goal. One small measure by which you can help us is to sign this petition.
RTO comes calling
Couple of months back the RTO raised objections against our business model and "raided" our offices as if we were some criminal organization. Hence, for the last few months we have been running from pillar to post and trying to engage in discussions with the various authorities, trying to demonstrate the horrible traffic and congestion situation in Bengaluru, and the resulting air and noise pollution and how services like ZipGo can encourage more and more people to switch to shared transportation from personal vehicles. We have been working very hard to try to resolve the RTO concerns on our own, however the time has come for us to ask for your help and support for ZipGo through this petition.
ZipGo’s business model
ZipGo is an app-based aggregator just like Uber and Ola. We do not own any vehicles. All the vehicles attached to ZipGo carry valid Contract Carriage permits and other required documents including registration certificate, road tax receipt, insurance receipt, pollution under control certificate and vehicle fitness certificate. All the drivers operating these vehicles carry valid commercial licenses and badges. At ZipGo we verify all these document and follow other process including police verification, to ensure compliance with the law and ensure commuter safety. In short, ZipGo and all the vehicles leveraging the ZipGo platform comply with all the regulations and laws that Uber or Ola comply with. Most specifically we comply with Section 2(7) of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 that deals with the Contract Carriage Permits.
However, as some of you might have read or experienced, the Transport Department (RTO) has been seizing vehicles attached to the ZipGo platform. The Transport Department wants us to shut down.
History repeats itself
The Transport Department had used the same arguments and strong-arm tactics with Taxi For Sure, Ola and Uber. The Transport Department termed all of them “illegal”, raided their offices, seized and impounded their vehicles, confiscated office computers and laptops, and confiscated the devices issued by these companies to the vehicle drivers. Links to articles detailing these episodes are below. And the RTO continues to do this even today. Even in January taxis operating on these aggregator platforms were seized by the RTO.
Now ZipGo is being targeted in exactly the same way.
Our philosophy: Healthy competition, consumer choice and free markets
We believe that the state government should not vent its frustration against such players but should ensure a conducive environment to ensure healthy competition among service providers and give priority to “consumer choice”. Freedom of choice and fair competition are not only the basic tenets of any democratic society, but also a necessary condition for an open-markets economy. We also believe that we as a country need to get away from the central planning and continue to move to a more markets-based economy. Healthy competition leads to lowering of prices and improvement of service quality. It has worked well in various sectors such as airlines and airports as well as the taxi market.
Lessons from the taxi market
Taxis have become much cheaper today and are available at the touch of a button. Before Ola and Uber, Meru was the dominant taxi company and used to charge Rs. 20 per KM during the day and Rs. 25 during the night. There were only 3 taxi companies in India and they colluded under the umbrella of Radio Taxi Association to and to prevent entry of more taxi players in the market. They worked very hard to prevent Ola, Taxi For Sure and Uber from becoming successful to protect their interests. But they failed. Hence today, the base fare for Ola and Uber are in the Rs. 10-15 per KM range, a reduction of 25%-50% in fare. Meru still charges Rs. 20 - 25 per KM.
Taxis vs. ZipGo
However, taxis are still not affordable for the majority of us for our everyday office commute, specially with surge pricing which seems to always be in effect during peak hours as well as late night / early morning. Also while using a taxi, there is typically only 1 person is using the vehicle. Hence, we believe that the impact that shared transportation services like ZipGo can have on easing our daily commute, reducing traffic and reducing pollution can be even bigger than that of taxi services.
Services like ZipGo are encouraging more and more commuters to stop using personal vehicles for their office commute and instead use a shared transportation option. Here is some coverage of ZipGo that highlights the positive impact of ZipGo. Even the governments of Delhi and Rajasthan are supporting and encouraging ZipGo, while Karnataka continues to oppose innovation and new business models in the transportation sector.
Start-up and entrepreneurship environment in India
The sad reality that we are witnessing first-hand is this: Our government spends millions of dollars in promoting Make in India, Invest in Karnataka, Start-up India etc. but the ground level support for any innovation or new business initiative is severely lacking. These high level policies need to translate into ground level realities. Hence, in the absence of government support, it is only your encouragement that keep us going. Your support is the fuel that we need to fight for what we believe is right. So please help us by signing this petition.
Karnataka and Bengaluru
It is disappointing to see Karnataka change from the hub of technology and innovation to a place where such businesses are being actively forced to shut down. It is not good for our city, our country and our economy.
We strongly believe that services like ZipGo are good for our cities and hence have decided to fight the good fight and we will keep trying to address the Transport Department. We can not allow vested interests prevent us from doing the right thing. And we want to make sure that the voice of the common citizens who benefit from these innovations reaches the corridors of Vidhan Soudha.
So, if you are a ZipGo user and feel that ZipGo has made a positive difference in your everyday life, or that the government should promote entrepreneurship, or that the RTO needs to stop its high-handed approach towards start-ups, or that the RTO should engage in constructive dialogues with technology start-ups to find solutions to an average citizen's problems (rather than trying to shut down every transportation start-up) - we urge you to help us and support ZipGo by signing this petition and tell us your thoughts on the matter - even if it is a one-liner.
Also, we will appreciate if you can please share this petition using the hashtag #LetZipGoRun on Facebook and Twitter.
We will compile all the responses and attach them to our petition to the Karnataka CM and the Karnataka Transport Minister, as well as the Union Minister for Transport for their intervention in the matter by this Monday. So please spare a few minutes over the weekend and sign our petition over the weekend.
Thank you very much for reading this rather long petition and we look forward to hearing from you.
On behalf of 100+ ZipGo employees, and hundreds of ZipGo drivers earning an honest living through ZipGo
Links to related articles:
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NOW, TAXIFORSURE TOLD TO STOP PLYING
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