Surrey startup Kater offers cheap and convenient alternative to taxis

BY Amy Reid – Surrey Now
Dec 9, 2016

SURREY — When Raman Khtaria heads downtown with three of her girlfriends this weekend, she won’t be driving, or taking a taxi, or hopping on a SkyTrain.

Instead, she’ll use Kater, a business she started that allows people to hire vetted personal drivers for their vehicle.

“So we’ll have the whole night. First a restaurant, then we’re going to a bar, then we might even go for dessert after,” said Khtaria. “The four of us, splitting the cost, we’ll pay just $40 bucks each. It’s personal chauffeur service in the comfort of your own car.”

The Surrey startup offers drivers at a rate of just $25 an hour, with a minimum charge of $50.

There’s no wait, no charge for the number of drop offs and no charge for parking.

It’s a timely service, given so many people need taxis for holiday parties this time of year, said Khtaria.

“I’ve heard so many complaints about trying to get a ride,” she told the Now. “Last year, I was out for a Christmas party and we decided to use taxis. We had to wait until 4 a.m.”

And, she added, it’s well known that taxi drivers don’t like making the long trip from Vancouver to the suburbs.

“With Kater, you can hire a driver for six hours. They drive you there, you don’t have to pay for parking and they drive you home. You get a VIP experience,” she said.

People can hire drivers using Kater’s app. With just a few swipes, a driver is booked.

“We took our time developing the app because we wanted it to be really comprehensive,” said Khtaria. “You can track your driver, book your trip, talk to the driver on there and really establish a relationship prior to the trip so it’s very comfortable when they come to your door.”

The business has nearly 100 drivers on board, said Khtaria, “so we can handle quite a bit of demand.”

Her advice?

“Book in advance,” she said.

The BC Restaurant & Food Services Association (BCRFSA) has partnered with Kater this Christmas to get people home safe.

“There is a real concern over lack of taxis to handle the Christmas rush,” said Ian Tostenson President and CEO of BCRFSA. “We have jointly developed an innovative solution to the problem.”

But offering a safe ride home is just one problem the business aims to solve, said Khtaria.

“It can be used by executives who want to get work done while commuting. You can also use the service to pick up family members, bring them to your home, or you can even pack your car and go to the airport, then have your vehicle driven home so you don’t have to pay for airport parking.

“People get really creative,” she added. “It’s convenient, affordable and easy.”

 

 

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