An obligatory scene in any film set in New York involves someone wolf-whistling and yelling ‘taxi’ before getting into a cab that instantly draws up out of nowhere. This doesn’t happen in real life, or at least not in London. The scene this side of the pond is usually this: it’s raining, a cab emerges on the horizon, you raise a diffident hand, this sign goes unnoticed, the cab passes by, you remain standing in the rain.

Stop standing in the rain

Those sodden days might well be over however with the release of a new free app called Hailo that locates the nearest available cab and signals the driver to come to you. For the passenger there are no hidden costs on top of the meter and the journey can be paid for by credit card. On average the taxi will reach you within two minutes of ‘hailing’ it. The app is as much for the driver as it is for the customer and Hailo makes their money by charging the cabbie a 10% commission for each passenger sourced through the app.

You can then watch the driver coming to you in real time, with the real-time updated ETA. Then the cab arrives and you get a notification, you walk outside and get in

Hailo’s CEO, Jay Bregman, tells Humans Invent that on average taxi drivers spend 30% of their day cruising the streets for custom which he describes as, ‘woefully inefficient’.

A screenshot of the Hailo app – simply click, wait and watch.

Bringing the cabbie to you

Bregman says, “Hailo was built to resolve this and other existing problems. I met up with three taxi drivers, Terry, Russ and Gary who had similar ideas. We got together in a café in Charlotte street, really hit it off and decided Hailo was the way to go: the idea of creating a smartphone based network to make the market more efficient.”

In August they released the drivers app which can be downloaded by any licensed, black cab driver. Even before the release of the customers app it worked as a useful social networking tool for taxi drivers: through it they can let each other know if there are traffic jams or road works going on, or, most importantly, tip each other off when there are lots of people searching for cabs in a particular area.

What each cab driver will see when an offer comes through.

In January the customer app, which uses GPS to locate the nearest taxi to you, was released. Bergman explains how it works. He says, “When it’s raining you can stay inside, open up the app and see that it’s going to be two minutes for a cab to get to you. Your card details are already stored and you can watch the job being allocated to the optimum driver. You can then watch the driver coming to you in real time, with the real-time updated ETA. Then the cab arrives and you get a notification, you walk outside and get in. The meter doesn’t start until five minutes after the cab arrives or you get into the cab, whichever is first.”

The cab driver in your pocket

Since January, there have been over a quarter of a million downloads of the customer app and around 150,000 rides using the device. Of course, the app will be better for customers the more taxis use the app and vice versa. Currently Hailo is only available in London but after recently receiving $17 million investment they are preparing to go global.

To find out how to download the app go to www.hailocab.com.

The End
  • http://www.facebook.com/mclellanchris Chris McLellan

    Great piece. Just a slight correction, the recent investment was $17m, not £.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the heads up. We’ve corrected it.

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