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Hailocab to launch mobile taxi service in Toronto

Posted by Tim / August 30, 2012

Hailocab TorontoHailocab 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?

Discussion

51 Comments

what about my cabby / August 30, 2012 at 09:40 am
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does anyone know how tipping would work? Can you tip on your card or should you carry cash for tips?
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from what about my cabby / August 30, 2012 at 10:12 am
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Hi what about:

When you sign up for Hailo using the mobile app, you can preset the tip amount (10%, 15%, or 20%). You can also change the tip amount when you get to your destination.

If you have any questions about the service, feel free to send me an email (justink@hailocab.com); happy to answer them!

Justin Kozuch
Social Media Marketing & Community Management
Hailo Toronto
cobyrne / August 30, 2012 at 10:19 am
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If "all cab drivers in the city are welcome to sign-on as Hailo drivers, regardless of what dispatch company they work with" is there any control over service quality beyond the normal requirements for a licenced taxi driver?
matts / August 30, 2012 at 10:26 am
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I don't frequently use cabs but when I do, hailing one or walking up to one lined up by the office towers in downtown was never a problem. I personally fail to see the problem the "new" cab companies are addressing. The test for me would be a good rainy day - can I get a cab, any cab, then, without a 45 minute wait.
the lemur / August 30, 2012 at 10:35 am
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'Using only licensed Toronto taxi drivers' - I can see how that would be relevant in London, but are unlicensed cabbies really that much of an issue here?
Charleen / August 30, 2012 at 10:39 am
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I'm so tired of drivers with bad body odor and cabs that stink - will you guys be doing something about that? Cuz I'd switch if I never had to get into a dirty armpit of a cab again.
Ester / August 30, 2012 at 10:39 am
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I personally find it hard to get a taxi during the morning rush hour. Once I had to wait 25 minutes to get a cab at the Bloor/Ossington intersection.

Phil / August 30, 2012 at 10:46 am
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I will definitely check this app out. Hopefully it will solve the problem of cabbies arguing with you when you want to pay with a credit card. Convenience finally comes to Toronto!
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from cobyrne / August 30, 2012 at 10:50 am
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Hi cobyrne,

We are working with all of the taxi drivers in the Hailo network to improve the customer experience. We are committed to creating a better taxi cab experience in Toronto.

Justin Kozuch
Social Media Marketing & Community Management
Hailo Toronto
Collin / August 30, 2012 at 10:52 am
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so this is pretty much the same as Uber, but using regular taxis and NOT limos/SUVs.

so i'm still stuck in a smelly, non-ac, with every warning light lit up on the dash, squeaky cab...just more efficiently?
John F / August 30, 2012 at 10:57 am
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Is this an article or a press release?
matts replying to a comment from Justin Kozuch / August 30, 2012 at 10:58 am
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"improve the customer experience. We are committed to creating a better taxi cab experience in Toronto."

OK, now that you got the marketing jargon mastered, how about answering the question, like for realz....
Mick / August 30, 2012 at 11:10 am
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How does Hailocab get paid in all this? Does the user pay a set fee to hail a cab? Does the taxi driver have to pay a monthly or usage fee?
Different Justin / August 30, 2012 at 11:17 am
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A Blackberry App would be nice...
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from Phil / August 30, 2012 at 11:17 am
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Thanks, Phil! With a Hailo passenger account, the payment experience is seamless and secure. No more arguing with cab drivers over payment.

Justin Kozuch
Social Media Marketing & Community Management
Hailo Toronto
GRAARG replying to a comment from Collin / August 30, 2012 at 11:22 am
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Colin:

There is also https://www.tapnride.com/ they offer taxis and limos. Same approach as Hailocab on the taxi side but they offer limos as well - you can choose either from the same app. Info on the web site.

GRAARG
Kent / August 30, 2012 at 11:23 am
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Hi Justin!

If the cab driver is bad, is there a 0% tip option?

I've used UberX (Uber for regular cabs) in SF and it was great - so I'm glad to see this in TO.

Kent
Will / August 30, 2012 at 11:25 am
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I use the beck taxi app and it's pretty much the same thing. I order a taxi on the app, no need for flagging them down and I use my card in the car.
Brian G replying to a comment from matts / August 30, 2012 at 11:32 am
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You're asking for internal company procedure (I have no affiliation with them).
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from Mick / August 30, 2012 at 11:34 am
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Great questions, Mick! Here's how it breaks down:

The passenger only pays the amount on the meter (and a tip), with no hidden or extra charges. Taxi drivers pay no up-front or monthly fees, and this model is helping create a new, fair and equitable system for Toronto taxi cab drivers.

We charge our drivers a booking fee for each Hailo job they accept.

For an in-depth view of taxi apps in Toronto and how they're changing the landscape for drivers, check out https://www.hailocab.com/toronto/drivers/blog/2012/08/03/taxi-apps-offer-drivers-real-freedom.

Justin Kozuch
Social Media Marketing & Community Management
Hailo Toronto
Brian G replying to a comment from GRAARG / August 30, 2012 at 11:34 am
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Tap n Ride doesn't have a lot of cabs signed up. Hopefully Hailo has more.
Jason / August 30, 2012 at 11:41 am
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Hailo sounds great. I have been using www.tapnride.com. Similar app which Offers taxis and limos. They are live in Toronto now.
Safer / August 30, 2012 at 11:43 am
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1st: did the interviewer actually ask the Q: What cab companies will you be working with in Toronto? ?! Really??

2nd: this should prove a safer experience for both drivers & riders if all rides/payments are mutually connected via the app for both parties now. That's good news and I'm wondering why Justin hasn't mentioned that in his PR so far...

3rd: I use Glympse from time to time, and am thinking that the 'real time' map will be a drain on a phone's battery, but it's a great idea.
Brenda / August 30, 2012 at 11:43 am
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Hail ur bike! Cabs are a waste of money. Think about what you could do with cash you would save by cycling or walking. Or take the TTC (a last resort). Cycling is the most efficient way to get around a Toronto as it becomes more and more grid locked. Sitting in a cab in traffic while the meter runs- no thanks!
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from Kent / August 30, 2012 at 11:52 am
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Hi Kent. That feature will be coming soon, if not for launch. You'll be able to change your tip during the ride.
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from Ester / August 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm
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We're working to fix that issue, Ester. We're bringing more and more drivers on board every day and soon enough, a 25 minute wait for a cab will be a thing of the past.
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from matts / August 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm
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I hear you, matts. I've had some longer-than-acceptable waits for a cab in the rain myself, so I can understand how that can be frustrating.

Our driver network is growing every day. Coming soon, rain or shine, you won't have to wait a long time for a cab to come and pick you up.
Jimmer replying to a comment from Brenda / August 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm
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Biking is way too limited. Like I'm going to get on a bike in the middle of winter carrying my groceries. Plus you are likely get run over by a streetcar or a politician.
Khristopher replying to a comment from what about my cabby / August 30, 2012 at 01:05 pm
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Tips should be a thing of the past in my opinion. How about cab companies just pay them better?!
Simon / August 30, 2012 at 02:28 pm
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I use the Beck Taxi app and Uber when I'm heading far out (airport). Never had a problem with it and they've got a huge fleet of cars. I don't see a need for this at all.
Alex replying to a comment from Khristopher / August 30, 2012 at 02:44 pm
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Cab companies? You're the one paying them. Remove tips and they'll just increase fares, except now they have no incentive to help you with luggage, etc.
TC / August 30, 2012 at 02:47 pm
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Does it not need a special cab licence? I thought this was such a hugely disputed issue - you can't just start up a taxi business.
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from Simon / August 30, 2012 at 02:53 pm
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Hi Simon, I'm glad to hear your exploring other options. When we launch later this year, I'd love it if you tried out Hailo, and I'd be happy to give you some credits for a free taxi ride. Email me (justink@hailocab.com) and let's see what we can do.
Michelle / August 30, 2012 at 02:54 pm
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I like the idea of e-payment and not having to give your location, for sure. There is nothing worse than being loaded down with bags and realizing you don't have any money. It's not that easy to pay for a cab with your credit or debit card on a busy street. Also, I have had time consuming conversations with dispatchers because I can't see a building with a number on it in my surroundings.

Will this drivers be driving Hailocab cars, then? I think that question has been asked in other ways. I don't know how it all works now. For most downtowners, the issue on our minds with regards to taxi rides is the comfort level of the ride. Some issues mentioned already here are lack of air conditioning and hygiene of the driver but there is also the condition of the interior of the car, loud music, loud personal phone conversations on headsets and poor interpersonal skills of the driver. If Hailocab wants to address these problems by providing a better customer experience, you'd make a killing.
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from TC / August 30, 2012 at 03:37 pm
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Thank you for your question, TC. Hailo is licenced by the City of Toronto.
Niklas / August 30, 2012 at 04:10 pm
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Any taxi company who made sure all of their cabs were clean and their drivers doesn't stink would get all my business right away. I couldn't care less about any of the other features.
me / August 30, 2012 at 07:18 pm
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Q: "Why would someone use Hailocab instead of just calling..."
A: "Consumers won't have to stand on the street with their arm in the air..."

-> why would they be standing on the street with their arm in the air if they're calling?

"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."

-> that doesn't necessarily translate into success, since DLs & 5* reviews do not necessarily translate into $$$.
agence / August 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm
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I don't usually have a hard time finding a cab downtown. However, what others have pointed out already, is that taxis are often in poor shape and unclean. They are also gas guzzlers. If someone could promise a clean, modern, fuel efficient cab, I would sign up right away and use the app every time. But if it means getting the same experience as usual, the "easy payment" feature doesn't really matter to me. I'll just step to the curb and hail a cab.
Nic / August 31, 2012 at 09:20 am
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If it's clean, doesn't smell and the drivers wash more than once a week I'm totally in. Oh, knowing the streets of the city in which you work in would be a bonus too. Current Toronto taxis are an absolute embarrassment, I welcome more competition.
jgam / August 31, 2012 at 10:20 am
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This is already happening - its called the Beck Taxi app. It's brilliant and totally reliable.
http://www.becktaxiapp.com/
matt / August 31, 2012 at 11:04 am
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kind of neat, but don't see myself ever using it.
J / August 31, 2012 at 11:37 am
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I don't care what fancy app is developed, as long as it costs ~ 4.25 to even get in a cab, I'll do everything I can to avoid taking one. Also nothing like sitting at an intersection (or in traffic) with the meter running.

Walk. Bike. Public transit.

Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from Nic / August 31, 2012 at 11:38 am
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Thanks for your comment, Nic. We're working with all the drivers in our system to provide the best taxi cab experience possible, from a clean car to a knowledgeable driver and everything in between. When we launch, we'd love to have you try us out. Send me an email - justink@hailocab.com - and we'll send you some credits for a free cab ride on us.
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from jgam / August 31, 2012 at 12:07 pm
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Glad to hear you're trying other apps, JGAM. The Hailo app is superior in a number of ways. Here's how it breaks down:

With our app, you can see the taxi coming towards you in real-time, so there's no need to call the cab company to find out where your cab is. You can also pay using the credit card on file, so you won't need to hand over cash, a debit or credit card at the end of the ride - and you won't have to pay the $1.50 credit card user fee, either. Finally, you can see all the currently available cabs using our app, so you can see exactly how far away you are from the closest cab.

These (any many other features) are not available in the Beck app.
Steve / September 2, 2012 at 02:16 pm
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Maybe I'm naive, but I just don't get how any of this aside from the digital payment creates convenience or solves problems. Frankly, the "problems" they seem to be mentioning are mythical and/or simply don't apply to Toronto.

1/ Getting a cab in Toronto is easy, because "waving your hand in the air" IS NOT A BURDEN. Raise your hand and a cab is there in seconds -- seconds. Using an app means waiting for a cab that you could have had by just waving. By that measure alone, the Halio approach will take LONGER. If it's raining or snowing or rush hour, the cabs will still be busy -- supply and demand says so. Halio can not reduce that problem, no matter what they say.

2/ Halio is just an app: the cabs themselves will come from providers already in existence, whether from the major chains or the smaller independents. As a result, the actual in-cab experience will be EXACTLY what you are used to already, because it's the same cabs in play.

3/ "Arguing with cab drivers over payment"? Has never happened -- okay, maybe once in twenty years. But it's not a negotiation, so there's no argument -- the price is right there on the meter. Nothing solved here.

4/ They will only work with licensed cab drivers -- huh? Again, maybe once at the airport an unlicensed cabbie tried to offer me a ride. But really, let's just state a fact and say if you get in a cab in Toronto there's almost no chance they are unlicensed.

5/ Digital payment -- cool idea. Any of the cab companies could do this, and when they do the business model no longer is unique.
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Jayemmbee / September 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm
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Hmm no blackberry app. What's up with that. Your in Canada where its still quite popular considering its the birthplace of it

Other than that I'd love to try it because now I'll know ahead of time how much my ride will approximately cost
Justin Kozuch replying to a comment from Jayemmbee / September 20, 2012 at 02:38 pm
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Hi Jayemmbee,

Thanks for your comment. Blackberry is part of our roadmap, but we currently don't have a release date for our Blackberry app.

We don't have any fare estimation tools built into our mobile offering, but if you are curious to find out what your total fare would be between two points, send me an email at justink@hailocab.com, and I'd be happy to get you this information - and into a Hailo cab!

Justin Kozuch
Social Media Marketing & Community Management
Hailo Toronto
mangatt / October 29, 2013 at 11:14 pm
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mangatt / October 29, 2013 at 11:17 pm
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i do like your service if you contact me i can put my drivers in hailo
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