Even in larger cities, finding a taxi can be a real obstacle course. Launched in Israel, the service Get Taxi wants to simplify this path for users and take advantage of the growing number of independent taxi drivers. A linkage service that is being emulated all over the world.
A box connected to a central server
The simplest concepts are often the most popular. With Get Taxi, smartphone users download for free an application that gives them access to a location-based map, which displays in real-time the nearest taxis in service. With a single click, users can order a taxi in their area, thus avoiding the higher fares associated with calling one from across town. Drivers who subscribe to the service are provided with a “dedicated box equipped with a GPS and GPRS,” explains Nimrod May, marketing manager of Get Taxi. The main advantage for drivers is the unbeatable rates of the new service. One hundred euros per month (about 3 euros per day) on average, compared to about 4000 euros per year for membership to a central reservation service. The balance clearly weighs in favor of Get Taxi: “drivers find the cost of the service ridiculously low and they like to be in direct contact with customers.” Drivers who choose not to sign an exclusive contract with Get Taxi, remain free to retain or abandon the service at any time and can continue to work in parallel with a central reservation. Another advantage for the driver: passenger numbers are made to available drivers, helping them avoid any unpleasant surprises in regards to the dispatch and payment: as soon as the taxi agrees to a pick-up, he locates his passenger in real time and thus knows if he or she has gotten into another vehicle.
15 000 listed users
The service was officially launched on April 2, 2010 in the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, and in August in London. After just one year, the small business has over 70 employees and more than 15,000 users in Israeli cities. The goal? Moscow and Paris in early 2012, then Rome, Berlin and Madrid. To promote its application, the company promises users a loyalty program allowing them to win free rides and envisions a market share of about 30% in each city where the service is deployed. The Israeli company will face competitors outside their turf, albeit mostly smaller ones. But everyone is trying to attract big business, hotels and restaurants who need a large number of taxis daily for their customers and employees. With 600,000 taxi drivers in Europe, this market shift may inspire many to follow in their footsteps.
Other linkage services in France and around the world
- G1Taxi, which uses a downloadable application for the user and driver as well as a website, was launched in France in May. ”It uses geolocation to instantly view the taxi,” says Jean-Christophe Mallat, founder of G1Taxi. Drivers need not buy or rent additional hardware, and instead use their own smartphones: “the basic idea is to get away from the subscription model we’ve known in France for past 40 years.“ G1Taxi makes money by charging drivers a commission, from 2 to 5 euros depending on the destinations, “if he or she does not make a pick-up, the driver pays nothing.“ A similar, even competing, approach to reservation centers. The company created two and half years ago, which now claims 500 taxi members, has launched its service in Paris, Marseille and Lyon and aims to expand to major French cities.
- TB Cast, which hopes to have 20% of the Paris market share in 2015 launched its application Taxicommande in September in Paris. Drivers are outfitted with a touch screen incorporating an application and must pay 99 euros a month after a two-month trial (149 euros in 2012).
- In Germany, Mytaxi launched a similar application to G1Taxi in March 2010 where all communication between drivers and passengers passes through smartphones. The offer is available in thirteen German cities. The service seems to be more effective than in France: the map of registered Berlin taxis shows a greater number of taxis on the street than that of G1Taxi. However, web linking was not active at the date of this publication. The company is working on this and the possibility of paying directly for the fare by mobile.
- In England, Hailocab is dominating the market, with an application for both customers and drivers. Hailocab allows payment by mobile and funds itself through a 10% commission on every trip booked using the service.
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Translated by Genny Cortinovis