Back when I was at Hailo, we knew this was coming and it worried me. VeriFone, Way2Ride’s parent company, has access to 50% of the city’s taxi fleet and their meter info. This means they know exactly where all their cabs are at all times, and whether or not these cabs are actually available (because they can see whether or not the meter is engaged). This was information they didn’t really want to share with us, so it made things harder than they needed to be. Needless to say, it’s pretty important information to have if you’re going to do an e-hail app for yellow taxis.
Way2Ride used to be clunky and hard to use back when it was just an in-cab payment app, but this new version looks much simpler and straightforward. Not a lot of steps to hail a cab and pay, with PayPal integrated into their mobile wallet, and an autotip option (defaulted to 25%!). It does look like they took a few of the best pages from the old Hailo playbook, which makes me feel oddly proud.
Of course, I haven’t actually tried it yet, so who knows what the experience is really like, but right now I’m rooting for it to be just as easy and clean as it promises to be. If it is, and if their marketing is any good, yellow cabs might have at least something to offer people who’ve gotten accustomed to the whole hail-a-cab-on-your-phone thing (that being just about everyone).
All VeriFone needs to do next is team up with CMT, the other member of the credit card-processing duopoly in NYC’s yellow cab fleet, and taxis stand a chance of hammering out the dent Uber has made into their business.
It’s important to note that I don’t believe any of these people are actually The Good Guys. It’s just, the yellow industry has been desperate for some technology (and policy) to make them competitive again, and while this app may not be exactly it, it’s certainly a step in that direction.
Check it out and decide for yourselves: