As ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft continue their relentless growth and gain access to passenger pick-ups at more airports, some new technologies are in the works that could help licensed taxis compete more effectively.
Flywheel, which provides an app that consumers can use to request taxi pick-ups in six western cities, is starting to test a new smartphone-based taxi meter that will let taxi drivers consolidate much of the equipment and systems they now use.
The GPS-based TaxiOS for Android phones will replace dispatch systems, navigation, payment systems and meters in a single app. Customers would be able to make cashless payments and track their rides with the app, just as they do with Uber and Lyft. It will also work with telephone dispatch systems, and passengers could still raise their hand to hail a cab in the street.
TaxiOS is being tested in some taxis in San Francisco and will be expanded after regulatory clearance.
Meanwhile, a 2016 launch in New York, London and Singapore is planned for the new Karhoo app, which has raised $250 million thus far in venture capital funding. New York-based Karhoo will work with existing taxi and black car fleets, letting the customer see and compare his ride options at a glance, and summon a nearby driver for a pickup.
Company officials say that when Karhoo launches in New York City, it will be working with fleets that include 28,000 yellow cabs and black cars currently operating there, thus avoiding the kinds of regulatory hoops that Uber and Lyft are having to jump through to enter a market.
And there’s Arro, an app available for Android and Apple phones that’s currently in use in New York and coming soon to Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
Like Flywheel, Arro can be used to hail licensed taxis and to pay for the ride — even if the customer didn’t use the app to request the vehicle. It also promises regular taxi fares with no Uber-like surge pricing.
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