Monday, July 18, 2016

ARRO, Just What We've Been Waiting For? New Taxi Hailing App From CMT.

With the requirement for contactless credit card readers to be fitted in the rear of all taxis looming, and not wanting to leave it to the last moment, I decided to check out all the available options.

There are many pros and cons with all available systems, but taking into consideration my own personal circumstances and requirements, I found the system offered by Taxi World, fits my needs best. 

No initial layout expense, inclusive printer and best of all, no contract. I also prefer the fact that the system has its own GPS chip and works independent from my phone, unlike my present set up with iZettle. I found having to frequently disconnect my blue tooth hands free to get the machine to connect to my phone, annoying.

I had a very informative conversation with Linda who was taking payment for the meter I currently rent from Taxi world. She told me to book as soon as possible as bookings close to the deadline were filling fast. 

As luck would have it, I was able to book a fitting at my nearest White City branch. The fitting was quick and the fitter even went to the trouble of hiding the cable I had running to my dash-cam. Everything looks much neater now. 

While there, I was informed about an exciting new app being developed by Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT), a Long Island based tech company who make and market the CC equipment. 

CMT'S "ARRO" On The Horizon. 
Could this be the light at the end of the tunnel?

CMT have a Taxi hailing app called "ARRO" which is currently being used by over 10,000 delighted New York yellow cab drivers. This very professional app is now being adapted for the London market. This will not be just another run of the mill app no one hears about, CMT have the resources to take on a Uber big time, in the same way they've taken then on in New York. 

When a user taps the app, a nearby Taxi driver is sent the passenger's name and pickup address. The rider is sent the driver's name and ID number so he/she can identify the Taxi. Users store their credit card details in the app, allowing them to pay the metered fare, plus tip, automatically. (Sound familiar)

"Our solution is completely integrated with the taxi, whereas Uber's is not," said Mr. Epley, who worked as a logistics consultant for CMT before leaving to launch Arro.
The next feature that Arro says gives it a leg up on Uber: 

Allegedly, the app will run on the GPS tablet which comes free with the CC system, so won't use any of your phone data. 
The app will also be available to non Taxi World's system users, available as a download from both Apple and Android app stores.

But the success of this venture lies in your hands. The more Taxi drivers that sign up, the more successful it will become.

And so off to work, with my new CC contactless reader on board!
At first I found the plethora of window stickers, advertising the fact I now had this contactless machine quite daunting. The thought was running round in my head that I may never take a cash ride again.

But to my surprise, I managed to complete two whole night shifts without taking a single card payment. It was only half way through my third shift, I had my first take up. The tip option however, proved fruitless. 
Wasn't we told by TfL, this whole issue came about because according to their consultation, over 85% of my customers wanted to pay by Credit Cards!

There is however a downside to these new machines, they definitely impair vision through the rear view mirror. With the head rests already blocking so much of the rear view, the machine appears in the mirror between two headrests blocking even more.

 I must say I'm surprised in these days of the nanny state, with strict health and safety requirements, that rear fitting these machines has actually been allowed. Front fitted and hand held units have been workable for many years, with no problems whatsoever. 

Most drivers believe the only reason TfL are insisting on units fitted in the rear, is solely just because they can.

There seems to be no clear safety or financial advantage to the passenger or driver. Unfortunately, this issue has seen a number of smaller independent suppliers, forced out of business by TfL's decision.

Again we see an uneven playing field, as there is no similar mandate or requirement for Private Hire to take CC payments or have a unit 'fitted' in their vehicles.

There is also no requirement for a minicab driver to have to pay the service charge on transactions, customers can still be billed by the driver on top of the fare. The London Taxi trade has become the first ever group of traders to have this requirement forced upon them.

Amazingly, our representative orgs have never questioned the fact that TfL went against their own consultation results when it came to rear fitting of units and transaction service charges. The only statement I managed to get from Steve McNamara general secretary of our largest org the LTDA, was "it's a done deal". 

Done deal...done by who?
Freudian slip? or using the wrong wording perhaps? 
Or is Steve referring to the deal appertaining to the revenue that's being generated by the constant stream of advertising in trade papers?

Still Woefully Inadequate : 
In my opinion, this whole issue is proof that TfLTPH haven't a clue about what's best, when it comes to the every day workings of our iconic industry. 

They certainly take no notice from their own consultation, which appears to be no more than a waste of resources. 
It's as if they sit in their office all day dreaming up schemes to squeeze the life out of our trade.

Still, it's no good moaning about these new requirements now. 

When the trade had the chance to do something, nowhere near enough drivers came forward. Most drivers seemed to believe £24 per head was too expensive to fight for their survival. Some org leaders didn't even bother turning up to meetings with LTPH, when arranged.