Kangaroo Cabs is one of the oldest and most professional cab services in Sri Lanka. They're also one of the more expensive, but you get what you pay for. They have a new app, which is what we're reviewing here.
Ordering a cab can be a real pain, what with giving your name and address over and over again on the phone. Kangaroo is more efficient than most in that the call center remember who you are and they use SMS, etc to send you details.
They also have an app (iOS/Android) which we tried out. The app is pretty simple. You basically fill out your details (name, address) which is then stored in your history or favorites (so you don't have to keep entering). You can also choose current location, which seems to pull up the street address, you don't drop a pin on a map or anything.
You can also choose from popular location, which includes most restaurants, nightclubs, etc. This is a cool idea and seemed to have most of the places we'd be at.
Then you click Reserve Taxi and the order goes through. You get an SMS almost instantly. We somehow ordered twice on accident so they called to make sure we just meant one cab. Beyond that we're not sure if they call at all. We placed the order at 12:56. Our cab arrived at 13:12 (16 minutes later). Not bad. When it arrived the driver just called. Our office address is not super logical to find, but they were right outside.
Kangaroo Cabs are usually pretty nice, in our case it was a Toyota Prius (hybrid). We've also travelled in Allions, etc. The driver was nice, the cab didn't smell like he'd been sleeping in it, it was fine. The driver knew where we were going and it was basically a painless ride.
There's no GPS in the cabs as far as we could see, and he had a dumb phone. The app service is not something like Uber which connects you directly with a driver. Your order goes to the regular Kangaroo dispatch which then calls the driver (we presume). On one had this is less efficient and cool, but it made no difference to my experience. I've taken Uber cabs in New York and they can take 15 minutes or more to arrive. You do get to see the cab on a map, which is cool, but a Kangaroo cab picks you up just the same.
The benefit of the Kangaroo system is that it offers higher security. The cabs are all tracked via GPS and monitored by the central dispatch. Such a system doesn't scale as easily as Uber, but it can provide reliable and safe service in Colombo.
Taking a Kangaroo cab is more expensive than taking a trishaw, nano or van (obviously). It costs Rs. 230 for the first 3km and Rs. 74 per kilometer thereafter. In my case I was going from office to home which was less than 3km, so my fare ended up being Rs. 230.
Kangaroo is a case of value for money. If I'm doing a short run and I'm on the street I'll hail a trishaw. The ride from office to home would usually cost about Rs. 150 that way. If, however, I want to show up at a meeting in decent condition or I'm with someone Kangaroo is a much better option. Also at night or in places away from a main road, calling a Kangaroo can spare you walking or hanging out on the road until a tuk comes by.
Finally, at night or for women traveling alone, a registered, dispatched and tracked cab like this is always safer.
The app is cool because I can just be sitting at work, hit a few buttons and then get a call when the cab arrives. Calling Kangaroo is also pretty easy, but the app makes it just a bit simpler.
Kangaroo is not the cheapest form of transport, but it's reliable, safe, comfortable and, with the introduction of their new app, quite modern. We think it's probably the most professional cab service in Colombo.