ASTANA – TOUCHka Ltd. has developed a mobile application, TOUCHka, which is an analogue to the Uber application in Europe and America. The application allows Astana and Almaty residents and guests to order a taxi with one tap on their smart phones, and unlike other taxi services, TOUCHka does it all online.
The company employs only new cars, produced no later than 2012 or 2013, and offers free Wi-Fi service and a charger for smart phones. Clients can use credit cards or Kazkom Bank’s e-pay to pay. Average bills in Astana amount to 700 – 800 tenge (US$3.86 – 4.42).
One of TOUCHka’s co-founders, Yermek Ospanov, admits that the application is not their own invention. Instead, the company applied the best aspects of similar mobile applications in the U.S. and Europe in Kazakhstan.
“In highly developed countries, it is becoming more and more normal to use such services. It is safe and it saves time and money,” he told The Astana Times.
Ospanov also noted that in Kazakhstan’s two biggest cities, Almaty and Astana, people are used to waving taxis down on the street, which is not necessarily the most secure way to move around the city. Nowadays, however, a growing number of taxi users are beginning to care about their safety.
“When it comes to drivers, we are very picky. First off, they go through an interview with our managers. Secondly, they provide us with a number of documents and certificates, such as a certificate of good conduct, certificates from substance abuse and mental health clinics, et cetera. Thirdly, they take an exam on their knowledge of the city and they receive professional conduct training with a client,” Ospanov said.
According to him, the company not only cares about comfortable and secure trips: they also want clients to save on transportation.
“Our tariffs are significantly lower than those of our competitors; however, they’re bit higher than if you hail [a cab] on the road,” he said.
“Besides the fact that a client gets a comfortable, quick and affordable ride, our app can partly solve traffic issues. A similar mobile app in Moscow reduced the distances that taxis travelled while empty from 10 kilometres to 2.5 kilometres. In Israel, this distance gets as short as 700 metres. Such a great result was achieved because only the nearest driver gets assigned to a certain client which resolves the traffic problems of the city,” the co-founder highlighted.
The application can be downloaded from the Google Play Market or App store for free.