Taxi and Ride-Hailing Conference speakers share their thoughts...Aram Sargsyan of Yandex. Taxi, Russia

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This year, alongside IT-TRANS, UITP is also joining forces with our collaborators at Messe Karlsruhe to bring you the Taxi and Ride-Hailing Conference and Exhibition – the only event of its kind to bring together the taxi sector and the new players side-by-side.

We've all taken a taxi. We've all called a cab. And since it's 2020, we're assuming you've all hit up an app.

There’s no doubt we’re familiar with the different ways to bring a ride to your door, work or current standing location...but did you know the ways in which traditional taxis and the new mobility players together within UITP?

The business market has changed in recent years and as these modes now sit together within the UITP international family, our event is an excellent opportunity to learn about the smart solutions with the leading taxi experts from around the world (Karlsruhe, 3-5 March 2020).

For IT-TRANS, we got to know a collection of our speakers a little bit more with our Speaker Series for 2020.

And now as we approach our time in Karlsruhe, our T&RH programme, panel sessions and list of international speakers and participants is taking shape.

Over the next week we’ll be sitting down with several of our Conference speakers to get their thoughts on the event, what they expect from this year’s edition and what’s to come for the taxi sector going forward. 

So what better way to get to know what we can look forward to in Karlsruhe than a special sit-down with our speakers! 

Up next is Aram Sargsyan, General Manager for EMEA and CIS
at Yandex.Taxi, Russia.

 

Q1: Aram, Yandex.Taxi is a ride-hailing company that operates in more than 300 cities. Can you tell our readers more about Yandex and your operations?  

To be precise, it’s more than 1000 cities with 300 of them being quite big. We are a ride-hailing service, started in 2011, which currently operates under Yandex.Taxi and Yango brands in Europe, Central Asia, Middle East, and Africa. Don’t be surprised but we also manage Uber operations in Russia & several CIS markets. In total we operate in 18 countries.

Perhaps the most prominent thing about us is that Yandex.Taxi’s overall ride-hailing segment became profitable in Q4 2018, including all costs. We demonstrated profitability on an annual basis in 2019. So we believe we’re the first and so far the only major ride-hailing to be so.

Besides ride-hailing, we also have restaurant food delivery, super fast grocery delivery, small items delivery and cargo services, all built on the same platform and technologies.

One more thing definitely needs to be noted: we’re part of NASDAQ-traded Yandex Group, started back in 1997 as a search engine but now grown to many dozens of services. So called ‘Russian Google, Uber, Amazon, and Spotify’. You get the logic.

“According to different researches, in Moscow in 2018 the number of drivers providing taxi and ride-hailing services grew by 1.5–2 times…at the same time the share of rides by private cars dropped from 38% to 28% – and these numbers are yet to be updated. Ride-hailing really turned into public transportation…”

Q2: Yandex.Taxi has had massive success since its launch in Russia nine years ago. Congratulations on your success! What’s next for the company?  

To extend and improve our range of features that contribute to both riders’ and drivers’ experience and transform their routines for better. To continue heavy investments into safety technologies – of course this is one of key priorities for us. To go on thinking about yet new services and explore new opportunities. I would be glad to share more details but my PR team doesn’t allow me, apologies!

Q3: During the Conference you’re participating on the panel session “Achieving Operational Excellence – Global Best Practices”, where you’ll discuss the new technologies and behavioural training needed to improve operational efficiency and profitability in the sector. What do you hope people will discover from the session?

We’re purely a tech company – and a part of a tech giant which has at least several thousand developers. Everything in our service is about technologies; even the state of drivers’ vehicles is being checked every couple of days by computer vision. Unlike all other ride-hailing services we have our own mapping and navigation – again, thanks to our parent company. So we’d like to share some insights about how our own technologies, along with some brave experiments and decisions help us reduce expenses, increase drivers’ benefits with keeping the quality of the service for users – and eventually stay profitable.

Q4: Networking with peers is important to share ideas. How valuable is it for Yandex and yourself you to participate in UITP events such as the Taxi and Ride-Hailing Conference and Exhibition?  

You answered it already! Sharing and exchanging ideas and best practices helps us to get out of our ‘bubbles’; to move our market forward and develop solutions which could be deployed globally.

Q5: There is a great deal of discussion about the taxi sector and the new mobility players working together. What do you think the future looks like for Taxis and Ride-Hailing apps?

The sharing economy is growing at such a pace that many authorities, unions, and businesses around the world are still unsure how to deal with this. Some of them realise the huge opportunities ride-hailing and its collaboration with traditional taxis, businesses, and governments bring to the country and all the stakeholders. After all, we work successfully with taxi parks and transportation companies, as well as drivers who are sole entrepreneurs; we provide them with huge amount of orders and optimise their routines with technologies, so they can focus on quality of their vehicles and service instead. Others still try to build the walls and fight the progress – which, if we turn to the history of this planet, is actually unstoppable. I strongly believe that sooner or later we all learn how to live together and collaborate to the joint benefit.

And if to talk about a more exciting future… I’m not sure if you know but Yandex is one of the major developers of self-driving technology. Currently we have over 100 cars which already drove 2 million miles in Russia, USA, and Israel – and in one of Russia’s cities you can even order a driverless taxi via our regular Yandex.Taxi app. We believe that self-driving cars will dramatically contribute to safety and security of rides on demand. After all, robo-cars don’t get tired, they obey rules, they self-learn from many million hours of experience, and react on sudden obstacles many times faster than any human can do. Of course you can hear concerns on ‘What the drivers would do then?’. I don’t think the world should be afraid; the demand for ride-hailing has been growing, and robo-taxis will be coming into mass usage gradually, so they will work side by side with people for at least a long time.

“Sharing and exchanging ideas and best practices helps us to get out of our ‘bubbles’; to move our market forward and develop solutions which could be deployed globally…”

Q6: And finally, can you tell us something about the taxi sector in Russia that may surprise some people…what don’t they know?  

Hmm, let me think. In one old Russian movie there was a phrase which has become very popular since…‘Normal people don’t take a taxi to go to the bakery!’, meaning it was something for the elite. 50 years after, thanks to ride-hailing technologies, the taxi in Russia became really, really affordable. You can literally take the taxi to the nearest bakery 400 metres away if you don’t want to walk – or instead order our superfast grocery delivery which will bring you warm bread before you’ll even manage to dress up (but that’s another story). Let’s take a look at Moscow. According to different researches, in 2018 the number of drivers providing taxi and ride-hailing services grew 1.5 – 2 times, the share of ride-hailing within taxi rides grew from small numbers to 60%, and car sharing rides more than doubled. At the same time the share of rides by private cars dropped from 38% to 28% – and these numbers are yet to be updated. Ride-hailing really turned into a public transportation, and Yandex is contributing heavily into it.


 Thank you to Aram for his time and interesting take on the sector...stay tuned to our newsroom to hear from more of our T&RH Conference speakers in the coming days!

Sharing is caring as Moscow climbs the car-sharing charts

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