Hailocab to launch mobile taxi service in Toronto
Hailocab is coming in Toronto. Er, make that, they're already in Toronto. Anyone who has taken the 501 Queen streetcar east of Yonge in recent months will likely have noticed a yellow Hailocab sign at 219 Queen Street East, just across from Moss Park near Sherbourne. The UK-based company established a Toronto office in July and plans to start service in Toronto, New York, Chicago and Boston in the coming weeks.
In the past month the company has been busy signing up local cab drivers with the promise of getting them more passengers and earning more money. They estimate Hailocab drivers can earn 20-30% more money per shift. They've been wooing drivers by offering free gas as a sign-up bonus.
But what does Hailocab mean for you and me? Like the recently launches Uber, it's all about providing those seeking cabs with a more effective and efficient way to get them. No more hailing cabs on the sides of streets they promise. Instead, just download the Hailocab app to an iPhone or Android smartphone and book and pay for a taxi in as few as two taps of a button.
Rates are the same as a regular taxi - so saving money is not the objective here. It's simply about convenience in our increasingly smartphone pervasive world.
For a bit of a backgrounder, Hailocab launched in London, England in Fall 2011 by three taxi drivers and three Internet entrepreneurs. They expanded to Dublin in July of this year and now they're set to take on the world. Needless to say, they seem much more organized and well capitalized compared to the now defunct TaxiNow app we wrote about last Spring.
Earlier this week I reached out to Hailocab Toronto's community manager Justin Kozuch who filled me in on some of the finer details.
Why would someone use Hailocab instead of just calling Beck, Diamond or another local cab company?
Hailo makes the taxi experience better for passengers in the following ways:
- Getting a taxi is better. Consumers won't have to stand on the street with their arm in the air - Hailo traces a customer's location anywhere they want to hail a cab - bar, restaurant, office. The app also tells the customer how long they'll wait and then tracks the arrival of their taxi on a live map. Once the car arrives, customers receive a message letting them know that their driver has arrived.
- It's a better, safer ride for customers. Using only licensed Toronto taxi drivers, every customer gets a photo, first name and rating for their driver before he/she arrives to pick you up. This also makes it easier for customers to track down items that they may have forgotten in the taxi.
- Paying for the taxi ride is easier. Through Hailo's system, customers have their credit card on file allowing them to simply hop out of the cab at the end of a ride without having to hand over a credit or debit card. An electronic receipt is sent immediately.
What cab companies will you be working with in Toronto?
At Hailo, we put drivers first. We're working with individual drivers in Toronto, not with cab companies. All cab drivers in the city are welcome to sign-on as Hailo drivers, regardless of what dispatch company they work with.
How many cabs will be part of Hailo for launch?
We're signing up dozens of drivers every day to have a full fleet of drivers for our upcoming launch. We'll have the second largest network of drivers in the city at launch.
Why have other start-ups (ex. TaxiNow) failed in this space and what will allow you to be more successful?
We're already a huge success - the Hailo app has been downloaded almost 300,000 times by consumers and has more than 2,000 five star reviews on the iTunes App Store. And Hailo's investors have funded some of the world's leading technology companies, including Facebook, Groupon, Spotify and Skype. Hailo is the largest app-based taxi booking service in the world and its revolutionized the taxi industry in every market its entered. We know it's going to do the same in Toronto - and there may be no better market. We have a broken taxi system in this city, and it needs a massive overhaul. That's what Hailo will provide.
What do you think? Do you plan to try Hailocab when it launches?