In the US alone there are over 1.7 million registered ride sharing drivers that work actively. In Nepal, there are an estimated over 100,000 ride sharing drivers, specifically the two-wheeler drivers who are actively providing this service.
Rise of Ride sharing
The culture of ride-hailing or ride-sharing surfaced in the valley in early 2017, when Tootle Nepal first made its appearance as the first ever home-grown ride-sharing application. Sixit Bhatta, the co-founder and CEO of Tootle Nepal took heavy inspiration from the prevailing western ride sharing technologies namely Uber and Lyft, from the United States. Since then a wave of new and alternative ride sharing applications has organically as well as rapidly grown into the valley as well as some major cities of Nepal.
Ride Sharing in Nepal started as the two-wheeler service that was more viable for the rough terrain and thin alley ways of the core value. Also to save more time in the in-city traffic, people majorly opted for the fast and swift mode of two-wheelers as their preference for ride sharing vehicle option. Hopping on to this sector of the service industry, this decade has seen major ride sharing service like Pathao Nepal; the Bangladeshi company that has prevailed the market, Sarathi, inDriver, Sajilo, Sahara and other major ride sharing services that are active in the Kathmandu Valley.
“Pathao Nepal alone has trained over 100,000 riders for the service they relentlessly provide.”
This shows how the way of urban public transportation is completely going a service driven route. These established and growing ride-sharing service providers have completely changed the urban young population commute through their daily travel requirements. Now-a-days, the adult and elderly population too have become familiar with the concept of ride-sharing and how it is better and more convenient than the crowded and lengthy public transport rides.
Where does it stand today?
With the growth in the usage of smartphones, most individuals in the urban and suburban cities have access to smartphones, internet facilities and the mobile data facilities. This has further accelerated the popularity of ride sharing services due to its convenience, speed and comfort of being able to have a customized ride for one. According to the NepaliWheels team's judgment, ride sharing services reign the public transport and commuting options especially in the valley and the major cities of Nepal.
Rather than waiting for a public vehicle at the bus stations, getting in with the crowd and fighting for seats and struggling for the most basic need to transport and commute, the ride sharing services have been able to solve all the mentioned issues for a bystander. With the most convenient user interface and usage ability, people with minimal experience in technology can swiftly map the different applications interfaces. Also due to its 24/7 availability, people started to prefer these ride sharing services as not trusted and believed them even more as they would be using it at the most inconvenient hours of the night.
“After the Covid-19 pandemic, ride sharing applications saw a BOOM in their business.”
The Pandemic made people avoid major crowds, especially in the crowded and congested public transport vehicles. The ride sharing services in both two-wheeler and four-wheeler taxi services provided a more secure, individual, safer and customized ride for the conscious commuters. The mode of transport was slowly inclining towards these single rider and customer ride sharing services that fulfilled all the safety protocols for the Pandemic in Nepal.
The ride-hailing service providers have faced a plethora of legal hurdles and challenges. From getting their operations temporarily closed by the Department of Transport Management, Government of Nepal, harassment allegations and cases around the company, the Nepal Meter Taxi Entrepreneur’s Association (NMTEA); an umbrella organization under the registered taxi operators, taking actions against the ride sharing services run by private two-wheeler or four-wheeler owners and so much more. Companies like Pathao Nepal, Tootle Nepal and inDriver Nepal have faced the most legal constraints that were more visible in the public eye.
The entire concept of ride sharing services operates on the laws that directly goes against the existing Motor Vehicles and Transportation Management Act-1993 prohibits the use of private vehicles to carry passengers on fares; the entire concept of all the ride-hailing services that operate globally. This created a major feud against the home-grown as well as global ride sharing companies to halt their services. The services were actually halted in early 2019, due to its inability to perform according to the Nepal government's reigning law. As there is a growing need for more convenient commuting options, the country desperately needs to make a separate act to manage and regulate new forms of urban transportation; the ride sharing services.
There have been instances where unauthorized riders have claimed to be the registered ride sharing drivers and have assaulted, looted, and vandalized the customer when they were on a recorded trip. This issue has recently surfaced about many ride sharing services that has made these companies take actions and make major changes to their company policies that were in benefit of not just the company but the rider as well as the customer. Pathao Nepal and Tootle Nepal requires its riders and delivery personnels to wear jackets with company logo on them and put up company logo stickers either on their vehicles or helmets. The Pathao Insured step taken by Pathao Nepal is commendable as the company takes responsibility for the rider as well as the customers safety.
“There are over 15 ride sharing services actively operating all over Nepal.”
And it is still expanding. Not just in the valley, ride sharing services have seen opportunities in major cities like Pokhara, Biratnagar, Itahari, Dharan, Chitwan and other major cities of Nepal. Companies like Pathao Nepal, Lozoom, Super App, Eddy cab have slowly expanded to the major busy cities of Nepal. Ride sharing in Pokhara has seen some popularity through Pathao Nepal and Pathao Food that is showing its presence in the city. NepaliWheels feels the future is bright!!
Ride sharing applications and services have been introduced to many new ventures as well. A sector that ride-hailing services of Nepal had never thought of exploring was the food delivery as well as actual product delivery services; in a surficial and minute level. For example, Pathao Nepal has expanded its services to Pathao Food and sometimes Pathao Nepal is used as a trusted delivery platform for different goods when in an emergency scenario. With this discovery, we can expect the other ride sharing services to hop on to these potential markets or even introduce newer markets to the sector.
There lies a rapid growth prospect for ride sharing services in major cities as public transport is viewed as a tedious task to complete and fewer people want to travel through the traffic congested roads in Nepal. With proper regulations and improved laws applied and drafted by the Department of Transport Management, Government of Nepal, the ride-hailing services can be operated in a lawful manner that would not disturb the existing transport services and a peaceful and fair environment for all can be created.