The taxi industry is currently undergoing major changes. 10 years ago, the norm was for customers to ring their local taxi office and wait for a cab to show up.
It wasn’t unusual to know a couple of local cab company numbers off by heart.
However, technology has paved the way for massive change, influencing deregulation and the entire industry.
Finland is the latest country to deregulate its taxi market and, no doubt, the Finnish population is likely to be uncertain about their country’s formerly tight-knit taxi regulations becoming liberalised.
It’s a competitive market and it’s one that’s built on the backbone of solid technology.
iCabbi is front and centre of the action with its state-of-the-art automated dispatch and fleet management system in use by many taxi businesses.
So just what are the symbiotic benefits of deregulation and cab technology?
Taxi apps for ease and efficiency
Since the introduction of taxi apps we’ve seen an effective change to the old norm: the customer doesn’t have to wait on hold when phoning their local cab company, nor do they have to wait an indeterminate amount of time for their pre-booked taxi.
iCabbi has developed apps for some of the world’s leading taxi companies, such as Arrow Cars, Central Cars Morley, Whiteside Taxis and Blue and White Taxi, helping them to stay competitive. Like Apple’s Siri, EiVA is iCabbi’s automated voice assistant that recognises first-time callers and existing users. It helps with bookings without human intervention, leading to a streamlined, efficient system for taxi companies and their staff.
iCabbi’s driver app shows the nearest fares to the driver, within a certain vicinity, and calculates that customer’s fare, considering the distance, time of day and traffic. The calculation is completed before the driver has arrived at the customer’s pickup location, putting customers at ease over the price of the journey and ensuring a fair system for drivers.
Most taxi apps utilise cashless payment methods such as credit/debit card, meaning cab drivers aren’t rummaging around trying to find change. “For example, iCabbi has introduced SMS payments,”notes Andy George, Product Manager at iCabbi. “By using the latest payments technology passengers can pay faster than ever before. No more worries about machines not working or pin pads not having enough battery for drivers and taxi company owners alike. Card payments can now be made with ease.”
Deregulation often leads to fears of rogue drivers and less security for passengers. Taxi drivers are occasionally stigmatised as being unsafe and unlicensed, which is largely untrue.
In fact, the University of Leeds in England did a study on taxi-related incidents before and after the ‘Deregulation Act (2015)’ was written into UK law. Since October 2015, when the bill was passed, the number of recorded crimes relating to ‘nuisance’ and ‘civil dispute’ in the city of Leeds decreased rapidly for taxi-related calls.
In fact, in April 2014, prior to deregulation, calls for ‘nuisance’ and ‘civil dispute’ were almost on a par with legitimate calls.
The decrease in calls is most likely due to the transparent costs of taxi apps. It makes it easier for customers to manage their finances, but it’s also responsible for decreasing confrontations between drivers and customers over fare disputes.
Driver requirements for taxi apps vary from city to city, but there is protection in place. In San Francisco, legislation requires drivers to operate with a business license as well as a driving license and photographic ID. In London, drivers need a ‘private hire’ license and usually have a full driving license for at least three years.
iCabbi implements a driver rating system to ensure our customers’ drivers are of the highest quality in terms of driving and customer service. This also adds peace of mind for their potential passengers.
Cloud dispatch systems
One of the best examples of technology helping the deregulated private hire business comes in the form of digital dispatch systems. iCabbi’s digital dispatch and fleet management system uses GPS trackers to locate its drivers.
Drivers can pick up customers in as little as two minutes, and as it’s a highly automated system, human error doesn’t come into the equation, while customers are treated to the best possible service.
Likewise, the taxi company benefits as the system prioritises efficient booking and, at particularly busy peak times, more drivers can be deployed as necessary, freeing up schedules and funding so that it’s maximised for ROI.
While, on the surface, deregulation can seem like an open door to potential bad practices, the taxi business has revolutionised the taxi industry both for customers and companies. Platforms like iCabbi allow for transparent fares, reduced journey time, increased safety, and a mobile fleet that can move with the flow of business.
The technology has been so instrumental to the bottom line that 90 percent of iCabbi’s taxi customers expand within 12 months. Those odds will bode well in busy global cities such as Helsinki and its newest crop of taxi entrepreneurs.