If a particular action or stance is considered good policy in times of great need, might it be understood that in times of “less immediate need” that very same action should be viewed as a useful utility? The TLC has once again taken the step of allowing multiple fares in taxis as part of a stop gap measure, while the MTA recovers from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.
If you can remember back to the MTA strike of 2005, the transportation authorities teamed up to create a solution that worked in times of real need. It seems to me that if you are inclined to turn to these measures when the situation is most dire, as a governing body, you have weighed the pros and cons of the particular decision and have deemed it to be, on balance, of great and immediate value. So it stands to reason that if you are willing to implement a cab sharing system during times of great need, it would be reasonable to consider such actions during more regular times as well.
It seems as though the man at the helm of the TLC, David Yassky, has signaled that in 2013, not only will we have a chance to preview what a cashless, mobile phone driven payment system for yellow cabs might look like, but possibly a pivot towards endorsing the age of application based innovation in the taxi cab space in NYC. The political and institutional barriers to getting ideas out into “wild” for real world testing will, for at least a short period, be lowered — if only to see what churns up!
In light of Uber’s abrupt entry and exit from the mobile platform space directed at improving the efficiency of the NYC yellow taxi market (taxis that must be hailed, no dispatching), other companies that have been grabbing headlines, albeit in the transportation section of the paper for having brought in millions of dollars of investor money, might well experience similar market headwinds, not to mention regulatory concerns here in NYC.
I have always been a bit confused about the Hailo model, which in effect seeks to convert yellow cabs into more of a livery type utility, whereby a rider can “call” (mobile request) a cab to be dispatched to a certain location. That notion flies in the face of how the industry has been structured for nearly a century. In NYC, those two domains, the hail and dispatch, have been divided to serve different rider behaviors for reasons that are both obvious and practical. And with recent events, or some may like to view them as successful failures, the idea that a business can be built on a mobile platform that is designed to facilitate a behavior that is counter to the real nature of the business, in this case it is the street hailed taxi cab market, is beyond my rational comprehension. But Hailo and Uber are not alone in thinking that there is an opportunity here. A small start up , ZabKab, has garnered some attention and they too think there is some wiggle room here. However, they are a bit more tactful in their approach to seed this concept — they seem to dance around the regulatory rhetoric by saying that their app simply allows yellow cab drivers to know if there is someone, somewhere, already “waiting” on the street attempting to hail (really more like finishing up dinner at a restaurant or preparing to leave a party) but happen to be doing it a few blocks away, out of the direct sight line of the cab driver. And it’s ZabKab’s app that will allow the cabby greater visibility over the urban landscape to locate would be riders who have chosen to broadcast their location to all yellow cabs in the area.
I am certainly curious to see how this plays out, but if Uber’s foray is any indication, those who are looking to tackle the yellow cab market with smart technologies may need to take a serious look at which components of the system are amenable to change and which ones are fundamentally immovable.
Seems evidently clear that this wave is in full swing and that some investors are getting the message. There is tremendous potential in configuring the right ride share platforms and preparing for the growth in this market as populations increase, environmental issues are taken more seriously and the advent of the mobile web preps our societies for even greater demonstrations of collaborative practices.
Let’s get to work, investors.
Check it out HERE. Cities are trying to get drivers off the road; perhaps we should look into alliances in Dirty Jers!
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then what does that make a blatant violation of intellectual property rights?
CabCorner: a success measured by the tenacity of our competitors. Click HERE for the reference!
Yesterday, Jon received an email from the founder of our cab-sharing competitor Fare/Share NYC. Notwithstanding the geographically limited name, this player had encountered some success overseas in London, and had even established connections with some big brick-and-mortar transportation companies.
Yet with his solicitation to interest us in buying the platform and integrating it into the CabCorner brand–as CabCorner had done with Hitchsters and CabEasy a couple years ago–the sector is preparing to lose one of its last remaining innovative players (Weeels.org, apparently, is still kicking.)
This is an interesting development. As CabCorner’s offerings evolve into a more b2b operational initiative, it is notable to see that the original, broadly shared idea to connect individuals looking to “share the fare” still has yet to fully figure out how to mechanically capitalize on the interest.
Yet we’re making impressive strides, leveraging the expertise and search for efficiency inherent to cab companies to facilitate cheaper rides. The CabEasy experiment is our latest effort in this venture; we’ve refashioned one of our acquired properties to offer cab companies a new tool in servicing their customers. Check it out!
As Bloomberg and the TLC forge ahead with their plans to regulate the outer borough car service industry, particularly with regards to who is able to legally pick up street hails, a new taxi color has emerged. I would like to call it “Granny Smith Green”, although the Mayor would prefer it to be known as “Apple Green”. It appears as though they are ultimately aiming for a larger number of Granny Smith Green colored taxis to operate in the outer boroughs, roughly 18,000, which would mean a fleet that is 1.5X the size of the yellow fleet. We may be witnessing the emergence of yet another first tier versus second tier structural alignment when it comes to taxi operations here in NYC. The color lines have been drawn and as we all know, those differences make a lot of difference. I hope the Granny Smith cab will be seen, used and held to the same standards as that of its close cousin, the Yellow, at least in terms of passenger safety and quality of service.