Category Archives: Travel

Curious cases of Pickme drivers

Pickme is a well known home grown brand. It revolutionized how we hail a tuk from home. There are plenty to read online on the change it has made. Here I’ll write about the different types of tuk drivers I have encountered once you make the booking via the app.

The ideal one

Does not call to check the location but trusts you and the app (and the GPS on the phone) and turns up at your pickup point and marks as arrived. Perfect.

Sir, location eka harida?

Calls to ask if the location is correct. Defeats the purpose but can’t blame them if in the past some users were not correctly setting their location and GPS is off on some devices.

Asks for the destination

Politely asks for the destination. You wouldn’t bother as long as he turns up regardless of where you want to go.

Politely declines

Though they aren’t supposed to do, politely asks us to cancel because they don’t want to take the hire.

Says he is far away

They ask for the destination and if it’s too short for them or for some other reason, they lie that they are far away, whereas we can see he is close by.

Lame excuses

This one person said he just got his tyre punctured after asking for my destination. I cancelled and rebooked, the same guy picked up the hire again but this time he cancelled himself.

Cancels without any reason

He does not call, does not ask for the destination but cancels a minute after accepting the hire.

 

Tuk Tuk Sri Lanka

When I was a kid, our household had a van. This was mostly given on hire while I was taken to pre-school in a taxi – a black ambassador car. Though I was a kid who didn’t ‘know the world’ back then, I still remember the days and the car. Ambassador cars were the taxis back then; I guess rickshaws pulled by people also existed. I can’t remember if the ‘tuk-tuks’ that we call now were in operation – I can find out if I google but I prefer to write this from whats on my mind.

They were called trishaws, 3wheelers (obviously) and only recently tuk tuks. Back then it felt like an awesome machine, small, swift and easy, but there was plenty of space on the roads. Along the line, authorities ignored the taxi industry, forgot the tuk tuks and now they seem to be a problem. Many changes for public transport were seen while private buses are regulated (although not under total control).

The tuk tuk population just reached a million recently as per a news item. That’s a huge percentage considering the total population of the country. Most of them I’m sure are from Colombo. It has become the easiest and simplest method of self employment for anyone. If you don’t have a job, buy or lease a tuk tuk, get on the road and run some hires – this seems to be the strategy. This has led to a drastic increase in number, increased competitions for those who put food on the plate with the help of tuk tuks and chaos on the roads!

Taxi meters took a long time to get going but once it did, most of them got them fixed. If one does not have a meter running, he gets less hires so is forced to use it. But still the meters are not standardized by SLS or any institutions nor are they regulated, specially the fare. With a fixed fare for the first km, they started charging 30/- for the km and most gradually increased to 40/- with the rise in petrol prices. Even for a 5/- increase they increased by 5/-. But when the fuel price was reduced, only a handful reduced the fare.

There are many who run for taxi companies, which cropped up very quickly. Back then only the premium taxi companies had a call center to order cabs – cars – and they were expensive. With 3wheel taxi companies coming up, the car taxis also improved their service. These 3wheel taxi companies charged a lower fare with two or three who are popular than the rest. Then we also had the nano taxis.

Too many tuk tuks, unregulated, is not healthy. They generally run riot on the roads, sneak through gaps and pose a risk to other law abiding drivers. Of late there are ‘educated’ people driving expensive cars who seem to have gotten this habit too. Anyway, the industry must be regulated. A permit scheme must be introduced to limit the number that can run at any given time.

This will be bad news for the Indian manufacturer, but hey, what’s important here? The Sri Lankan Government should look after the interests of its people.

 

Covering the Northern Province

It was that time of the year when we get a long weekend to go on a long trip. Long (3-4 day) trips are becoming the norm lately within my group of close friends. 1st week of February was the first such in the year and we decided to cover the Northern Province, which many may not have covered completely. We decided to stay a night in Mannar which was our first stop, and two nights in Jaffna. Although three days were not quite enough to cover the whole region, we did our best.

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