Monday, September 10

Smartphone Apps; The Way Forward?

A cracking in depth article in The Verge about the growing competition between the producers of smart phone apps.
It seems to be between the two big players US based Uber and Uk rival Hailo developed by London cabbies.
Only the bigger cities are using these smartphone apps over here so far, its started in London and Dublin but it wont be long before they spread countrywide.
The idea is that the fare has the app on their smartphone and when they want a taxi all they do is type in their location or even just click the pick-up point on a map.
The software then locates the nearest taxi by GPS and offers the driver the job if they accept then the taxi location, details and arrival time are shown on the fares smartphone. The fare can even track the location of their taxi and ring the drivers mobile phone direct.
 Uber is prepaid on ordering the taxi by credit card and is paid directly into the taxi drivers bank account Hailo drivers are able to accept cash payments, which some drivers prefer.
  Both systems charge the taxi driver and the fare a fee but Uber automatically adds a 20% tip for the driver.
Could this spell the end for the big private hire taxi operators, and would this be a good or a bad thing for the trade?
The best thing is maybe for the driver who would have the freedom to choose which jobs he wanted and when and where he wants to work.
 Drivers would have no need to join the radio or data circuits if they don't want to this would save them expensive weekly subscriptions or radio rent.
But this is unlikely to happen in practice in the areas away from the big city's mainly because not everyone has or wants a smartphone.
 The other main consideration is cost because of the extra charges from the app provider and the fact that this system is more likely to be taken up by independent hackney drivers who will run the meter on the local hackney rates which are usually slightly more than the rates charged by private hire firms.
But even though it will be a premium service, I can see it being very popular with the young upwardly mobile taxi users especially when in a strange town and not knowing your exact location or a local taxi number, just two clicks and the taxi is booked.
The other problem is that these app services are not a taxi company or service provider and as such will not be responsible for any lost property or deal with any complaints from fares.      


Devon Driver said...

I'm sceptical. It is currently only worth doing in larger towns and cities, where you can just flag down a car anyway.

When I go to another town and I need a taxi I just ask for a popular number from a shopkeeper or someone.

Car Rental said...

This has got to be a good thing for taxi drivers and people who need taxis alike!

LG said...

I love smartphones, though nothing quite beats the brain. Use it to learn rather than to rely on, perhaps.

Off topic question but about taxi etiquette, so why not ask taxi drivers on the internet what they think :)

Grabbed a taxi, asked him to pick friends up elsewhere, he went the wrong way not realising where I was talking about but I didn't speak up at first, thinking he knew what he was doing and not wanting to question his expertise... until it got far enough for an "erm, it's the other way" to be in order (not miles obviously). We got there in the end after I also had to phone said friends to find out which sheltered bit they were huddling in.

English wasn't his first language, so I think there's a shared responsibility on both sides but he was kind enough to pause the meter while setting on the right path.

He got a bit of a runaround dropping my friends off up a cul-de-sac before moving on to my place, £5.25 fare. "Just £5 is fine" he says.

Now, I felt sorry for giving the guy the runaround all over the place and shared responsibility for the confusion so tipping was on the mind.

Suppose that was partly a story, as the main question can be asked in one sentence: In the situation when a taxi driver asks a lower amount than on the meter (happens all the time), is it considered silly to tip and basically give back the discount he just gave? I ask as I gave him 6 and he looked at me like I'd just grown a third head hehe. Just really curious, as I've wondered that before and previously just accepted the discount (the latter was Keswick. They charge like wounded buffalo there so it wasn't as much of a question)

Unknown said...

I agree with Devon, I would only take a taxi if I was in a big city, like a taxi in richmond or somewhere bigger like that. Fortunately I live in a smaller city and usually drive my own vehicle. When I do take a taxi, I usually tip the driver because I know how nice it is to get a tip. It makes your day. How much would you say is the best amount to tip the taxi driver? Thanks for your post!

Devon Driver said...

In the UK, the done thing is just to 'round up' the fare to the nearest 50p or somesuch. For example, a 4.70 fare will normally be 5.00 with a tip, or a 13.00 trip will be 15.00. It also stems from a British courtesy of helping the vendor retain change.

In the US, 10% is considered a minimum, and is expected. A 10% tip would express that you were dissatisfied. 20% is considered a normal tip for a good service.

Personally, I don't get formalized tipping. I only expect what the meter says (or what I ask for if a reduced fare)

John said...

In Dublin the HailO has ben great, from both a drivers and passengers point of view. The driver dosen't have to pay €120 per week to rent out a radio he just pays 10% of the HailO work which comes his way.A credit card picked up on the stret attracts 3%. Also the job will usually be right close to where he is at that time saving fuel.
Now for the passenger, they get the nearest car. They roof sign number and a picture of the driver. Then they can see the taxis progress as they come towards them. Girls love that the driver is on a trace back system, which means the driver is legal,insured and should a dispute arise they can take it up with HailO.

In London those minicab drivers are total cowboys, most cities in the world have their share of crooked cabbies. HailO is a step in the right direction. Uber is a limo service, so you can't use the bus lanes.
So your taxi would be much quicker

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Drew Gerhard said...

The latest web design techniques might make apps obsolete. When you can make a website that molds to the device it is being used on, doesn't that give the designer as much power as an app? It just seems that apps do the same thing as a well designed website.

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