If you live in Punjab, we are sure to have heard or probably even used the services of Ecocabs. This is India’s first dial-a-cycle-rickshaw scheme. Yes, a service where, using the mobile, you can just dial and get a rickshaw at your doorstep.
This was started by Navdeep Asija. Living in the small town of Fazilka, on the Indo-Pak border, he saw his mother struggle to get a rickshaw to go to the market. It felt it was ironical that the town had so many mobile phone users but yet, when it came to public transport, things were bad. A transport engineer, he decided to resolve this and worked on a solution. He first approached the rickshaw stand drivers, linking them up with the tea stalls, where he made it easy for people to call up the tea stall and they could get a rickshaw. Today, there are nine call centers in Fazilka of Ecocabs and each center is serving almost 1000 households. To cut down the vehicle out time, these centers are strategically placed along with the network of 5 feeder sub centre so that after a phone call within 10-15 minutes Fazilka Ecocab shall reach at desired location. This is mainly to facilitate household trips based trip to stop increase desired of personal motorised trip within the city; average trip length in the city is less than 3km, so it was easy to promote cycle based intermediate public transport system. At present fleet of 300 registered traction men are self employed under Fazilka Ecocab project.
The scheme now operates across 23 cities in Punjab with the support of the local district administration and NGOs. The service has gone hi-tech with the facility now available as an Android app. There is also “customized” service in some cities, like in Patiala, these Ecocab rickshaw drivers also double up as tourist guides. Now this is what we call innovation which changes lives!