An all new innovative online taxi stand offering safe, professional services to and from anywhere in the country, has opened in Samoa.
The Soga'i Online Taxi Stand based in Alafua has been in operation for exactly one month, owners Dr. Kapuana Ainuu and his wife Malulani Ainuu told Newsline Samoa.
"The idea came because I was thinking about easy access to a taxi cab online," said Dr. Ainuu, a medical doctor who works at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in Motootua.
"I manage the stand and the way it works is if you want to drive for me, you can still stand at your own taxi stand but you can join Soga'i Online Taxi Stand part-time or on-call."
Dr. Ainuu said he is a member of the Stake High Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What he does in his new business venture is register interested drivers and publicize their services on the Soga'i Facebook page. He currently has five drivers.
"I take a photo, I create a profile and make sure I have their phone number, their license plate number, village and other details and I post them up so that you know who is driving you," said Dr. Ainuu.
"Once a person clicks on the 'book now' button, then you will see a page for taxi services or transport. I basically offer the taxi service. It shows the time and date so you can schedule your taxi. When you confirm, it pops up on my messages and then I feed that message to the drivers then we see who is available."
The service provides an advantage to commuters by way of advanced scheduling of taxi services.
"It saves time and resources for the driver who may be driving around looking for passengers. At the same time, it saves time for the customer. You'd book online and once you book online you get that driver and the taxi cab on the time, on the date, no miss," Dr. Ainuu said
Inbound travelers also benefit from the service in that they can book a taxi before arriving in Samoa, he added.
"Security and safety is very inportant so if anything happens to you or your belongings, I have the driver's information," said Dr. Ainuu.
"People are slowly coming around. I've had a few customers who really liked the service. They really like the idea. Us, here in Samoa, we call the taxi last minute and then you wait and you want to go somewhere but you can't because you have to wait. So that's why booking online is nice. You don't have to wait. The driver will be there on the time, on the date so you won't be late to your appointment."
People in the back villages also stand to benefit from the online service.
"If they need a car and don't drive a car, they can book a taxi," Dr. Ainuu said.
"Samoans are on Facebook all day long, there is high traffic of Samoans on Facebook. A lot of people use data and not phone numbers because it's cheaper."
So far, the Soga'i Online Taxi Stand has one regular customer who is picked up and dropped off every Sunday for Church at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse in Vaimoso.
The online stand's name was chosen because people can easily identify the moniker "Soga'i", which refers to the Samoan man bearing a traditional cultural tattoo, with Samoa.