GEORGE TOWN, May 22 — Taxi drivers in Penang have come up with a smartphone application to fight off stiff competition from e-hailing firm Grab.

Called cALLme Cab, the app is now being used by some 500 taxi drivers statewide according to Gabungan Persatuan Pemandu Teksi dan Pemandu Kereta Sewa Negeri Pulau Pinang president Mohamad Shahimi Hadzri.

“We have more than 2,000 taxi drivers in Penang so we hope more drivers will register under this app to offer this service to users,” he said at the app launch here today.

He added that taxi drivers in the state had lost more than 80 per cent of its business in recent years due to Grab.

Mohamad Shahimi reassured users that taxi drivers using the cALLme Cab app will strictly follow the rates displayed in the app.

“The app functions like the Grab app so passengers will get a fare estimate and pay the price displayed when they arrive at the destinations so passengers need not worry about having to bargain with the driver over the fares like in the past,” he said.

He said currently the app only applies for rides around Penang but they hope to extend it to Sungai Petani, Kedah in future.

The cALLme Cab app kicked off in Klang Valley last December by two other groups, Angkatan Koperasi Kebangsaan Malaysia Berhad together with Pertubuhan Pemandu, Pengusaha Teksi/Limosin dan Kereta Sewa Malaysia, for taxi rides to and from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow officiates the launch of the Callme Cab app in George Town May 22, 2019.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow officiates the launch of the Callme Cab app in George Town May 22, 2019.

However, the app hit a snag in KLIA due to technical issues with the Malaysia Airport Berhad resulting in a pause of its use.

At the state launch today, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow lauded the taxi drivers’ initiative to be more competitive by embracing the use of technology.

“The taxies are insured, licensed and underwent stringent Puspakom checks as opposed to private vehicles used by Grab drivers so with rates that are almost similar using the cALLme Cab app, it is better than Grab,” he said at Komtar.

He said Grab now commands a large portion of the market share in e-hailing rides so the taxi drivers must offer competitive rates and similar convenience in order to get back a chunk of the market share.

He said consumers want a transparent fare system that is reasonably priced so this app with a rates that are similar to Grab’s will be able to attract users.

“Taxi drivers must be confident in using this app, otherwise this app will not be successful,” he added.