Saturday, September 22, 2012

Taxi! Oh, Never Mind. I'll Use My Smartphone.


That's the promise from Smart phone apps. The apps all work slightly differently, but in general they allow smartphone users to see where available cabs are, alert drivers that they need a ride, and store credit-card or debit-card information so they can pay for the trip without exchanging money or swiping a card.
The act of physically hailing a cab on the street could be a rarity "in maybe as soon as five years".
To most night drivers, these apps are a way of fighting back against the system, where our licensing authority seem to be working their way to bring in a one tier system by stealth.

Many drivers have become disenchanted with their current Taxi Radio Circuits, who seem to have lost their way, getting themselves entwined with Private Hire. The disgruntled drivers are looking for a new deal with cash, account and pre booked jobs, looking instead to a completely new way of offering a Taxi only service.

Many drivers believe, the new apps will eventually take over from current radio circuits as they reach out to become global. Soon an app subscriber will be able to book a Taxi to the airport and also arrange to be picked up their destination with a couple of click on their smart phone.

London is seen to be the jewel in the crown for these apps and now they have secured a large slice of the market, their sights are now set in cracking the jewel in the states, New York, where at the moment apps are forbidden.

Below is part of an article from the Wall Street Journal by Ted Mann.

These apps are big in London
In London, more than 400,000 people have downloaded the free cab-hailing app from Hailo since it was introduced last November, says Jay Bregman, one of the company's founders. Hailo users tap their iPhone or Android smartphone screen to alert participating drivers that they need a ride, and then tap again to book an available cab.
Get Taxi
Get Taxi's New York prototype shows nearby cabs...
Hailo says it has signed up 2,500 prospective users among cabdrivers in New York City and more than 800 drivers in Chicago. But before Hailo and similar apps can take off in those cities and elsewhere in the U.S., they need to iron out some issues with regulators.
For instance, Hailo and Get Taxi Inc., which offers a similar service, have reconfigured their apps in an effort to gain approval to enter the most highly regulated taxi markets, notably New York, which bars its 13,000 yellow cabs from using dispatch systems to connect riders and drivers. The rejiggered versions alert drivers to the presence of potential customers but don't allow the two parties to contact each other, which would violate the dispatch ban.
Which Way?
Meanwhile, regulators across the country are in the early stages of examining rules written, for the most part, long before smartphones were widely available to see if there are ways to make the adoption of hailing apps easier. New York officials announced this month that they would revise their rules by February.
Get Taxi
…And then confirms a booking.
On a national level, the National Institute of Standards and Technology—a federal agency based in Gaithersburg, Md., whose standards for taxi meters are commonly used by regulators—has gotten involved in the discussion. It has convened a task force of regulators and industry and consumer representatives to examine, among other things, whether Global Positioning System technology can be accurately used in calculating time and distance for cab fares, a feature that could readily be incorporated into hailing apps.
"Technology is moving at lightning speed," and the regulatory process is not, says Matthew Daus, a former New York City taxi commissioner whose law firm, Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf LLP, is advising regulators about new technologies. "We're at a regulatory fork in the road," Mr. Daus adds. The crafting of new rules "has the opportunity to be the greatest potential achievement if it's done right," he says. "Or it could be the biggest disaster ever" if it fails to let the industry benefit fully from the latest technologies.
Mr. Mann is a staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal's New York bureau. He can be reached at ted.mann@wsj.com.
Corrections & Amplifications 
More than 400,000 people have downloaded Hailo's free cab-hailing app for London since it was introduced in November. An earlier version of this article incorrectly put the number at more than 100,000.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A good article that underlines the frustration of disenfranchised radio circuit subscribers. These apps are helping take back work from private hire and helping suburban drivers to make new ground in their sectors. I'm all for this change that is long over due.