Tranzit, the online taxi booking service is launching a number of new features and user experience upgrades to its platform. In addition to its already established vetted one-time taxi cab hiring service, Tranzit is unveiling new product offerings. The platform now offers car (extended) hire services, parcel/package deliveries and location based discovery features, within Lagos.
Yet another new paint job?
These upgrades aren’t cosmetic. So much so that Tranzit’s creators finally deem their product to be referred to as version 1.0. One is inclined to agree. Compared to the new Tranzit, the old Tranzit was pretty barebones. And that is putting it mildly. Booking taxis via Tranzit works well enough, even back when they were TaxiPark, but the website and apps themselves were devoid of some of the baseline user experience features that one has come to expect from the current generation of technology enabled services.
That, it seems, is changing. The new Tranzit sports a more robust user interface that makes more information available to the user. User profiles now include ride history, which should have been there from the very beginning. Taxi bookings can now be edited or cancelled on the fly, suggesting that technology is increasingly becoming part of the process. In the new version, users will be able to see driver details, including their image, when their ride is confirmed.
Under the hood
A number of under the hood improvements also show that there is a quite a bit of thought going into the product and how to make the service even more useful than it used to be. User signup via Facebook is now possible, a feature that will likely double as marketing. The developers say that GPS data will be accessed and used to send only the drivers closest to a user.
One of the most common gripes users have had with Tranzit is the pricing. But it’s not just that they seem high (it is a premium transportation service afterall), but that they can seem arbitrary at times. Tranzit says they have a purpose designed algorithm to calculate the cost of every ride or delivery based on time of day, traffic conditions, vehicle grade, and distance in kilometres. It’s not one of the easiest things to verify by just looking at it in passing, but frequent users of the service might eventually come to appreciate how the system works. A simple way to know would be to take a look at ride history for frequent routes on certain days/times over the course of time and check for consistency.
New bells and whistles
Tranzit is however not just for moving people around in Taxis anymore. Asides from improving the core taxi booking product, Tranzit is venturing farther afield into the transit space.
Car hires – as a natural extension of one time cab bookings, cars can be hired for hours at at time, depending on the user’s needs. I can totally see myself paying N6,000 to be driven around Lagos for half a day (six hours), especially when I have multiple ports of call.
Delivery service – Tranzit already has access to the taxis that carry people around. But they figure that the taxis can carry more than just people. They can carry packages too. The new Tranzit allows users to freight items to any destination in Lagos. The service uses not just cars, but also bikes that are less likely to get stuck in traffic. Using an inbuilt rating system, Tranzit awards delivery errands to the most reputable drivers on the platform.
Explore – More of a long shot, but also important are the improved location based features. Just how “improved” these are remain to be seen, but the Tranzit Explore feature should help users find interesting or specific places relative to their current location, and I expect, tranzit habits, pun intended. Users can find points of interest – malls, restaurants, nightclubs, banks etc, and of course, quickly hire a cab to take them there.
All round, Tranzit’s new features portend a lot of interesting and positive things for their business and the space. The new features clearly aren’t nice to haves, they are calmly and clearly capitalist contrivances aimed at turbo-charging their current revenue streams and unlocking new ones. Also, am I the only one who can see logistics uses cases for niche ecommerce players? An even longer play would be the potential value that in the long tail of the “tranzit” habits of thousands (and perhaps millions eventually) of Lagosians, and layering location based business models on top of that, whether it is upselling on other products or simply geo-contextual advertising.
It’s hard to say when Tranzit was founded, because it was preceded by something called Taxi Park, a service that I first became aware of shortly after it was created in 2012. In what appear to be mysterious circumstances, Taxi Park ceased to be, and Tranzit showed up in August this year, without so much of a domain redirect. What gives? Tranzit’s three co-founders, as listed on the site, are keeping it tightly zipped on that score.
In related “news”, strong word on the street is that Tranzit is funded to the tune of $300,000. While the founders concede that they do have angel backing, they have declined to confirm or deny the figure.
When asked how business was in view of recent high powered competition — Rocket’s Easy Taxi — Nicole Ugochi Ugbomeh, co-founder and business development champion for the startup (who was also featured in our girls who code series) says they figure the market is large enough that they don’t feel threatened. Tranzit works with over 50 licensed drivers, has signed up over 2,000 users in Lagos and logs anything from 10 – 15 bookings daily.
Does anyone know how Easy Taxi is doing by the way?
The startup intends to expand operations into Port Harcourt and Abuja before the end of 2014, but are absolutely focused on perfecting the product in Lagos before taking it farther afield.
Tranzit is available to desktop browsers and on mobile web, as well as on Android, via Google Play.