Taxi aggregators to reveal the price algorithms

Taxi aggregators to reveal the price algorithms

Henceforth, Yandex will have to explain the passengers why the taxi prices are rising. A demand index has appeared in the Yandex GO app. Special indicator will show which factor affects the cost of the trip at a particular moment. This option appeared in the app after the Federal Antimonopoly Service obliged taxi aggregators to explain the increase in prices for rides in November and January, as well as to answer why their cost varies depending on the smartphone model.

Yandex denied the latter point, noting that prices are affected by many factors, which will now appear in a demand index.The representative of the service Yana Imaikina described how the new indicator works: "The visual informer appears on the smartphone screen after selecting a fare and a route. It can be green, yellow, orange or red. The difference in colour helps you to navigate. The closer it is to red, the fewer cars are available nearby, the worse the situation on the road and the more difficult the weather conditions are.

Conversely if there are a lot of free cars near the user and the order in his area is low, the price for a ride is standard or even lower. In this case the indicator will turn green. If you click on it you can see which factors affect the current price. There could be several reasons: current demand in the area where the user is hailing a taxi, traffic jams that make a trip longer or weather conditions.

Dynamic pricing algorithms automatically perform several thousand operations every second to calculate the optimal price that will attract more drivers during rush hour, and allow the user to leave from any location and at any time. When demand decreases, the system shows the drivers in which areas there is a shortage of cars and where new clients are waiting for them."

Taxi service users often complain that the aggregators unreasonably raise prices for rides. A bunch of criticism against the companies appeared in the winter of 2021, when a record amount of snow fell in Moscow in February and the city was stuck in traffic jams.

As a result, taxi prices doubled and even tripled. But the aggregators claimed that this happened due to objective factors.

The fact that Yandex GO users will now know the reasons for the price hikes is a positive step, said Kirill Yankov, Head of the Passenger Union, an Interregional Public Organization. But the general problem of the taxi market won’t be solved, the expert notes: "It is a step towards both the passengers and the taxi drivers. But how will it work? Will passengers be able to quickly figure the reasons for the current price?bThe best guarantee against unreasonably high prices in the taxi market is competition between aggregators. There are several of them now,  with Yandex dominating the market. It should be under special supervision and monitoring by, first of all, the Antimonopoly authorities. If Yandex simply shows consumers, taxi drivers how the demand index will work, then the Federal Antimonopoly Service should reveal the algorithms of how it functions, whether this demand index shows the real truth".

Yandex GO notes that due to the new function, passengers will be able to save their money. as they have an opportunity to monitor the demand and to order a car as soon as the price lowered.

Photo:, Irina Bujor / Kommersant newspaper

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