One of the pros about living in New York City – and most metropolises in general – is how easy it is to get around. Even if you’ve got to travel far, in an urban setting there’s usually a way to get from point A to point B with little effort by means of public transportation in the form of a bus, train – and, if you’re willing to splurge, a taxi cab. But landing a cab has is not as simple a process as we impatient urbanites wish it to be.
Let’s stop at that red light for a moment. Did you know that the taxi industry is a 31 billion dollar a year industry in the United States and Europe combined? That makes it a prime target for investors and innovations – especially since populations are on-the-rise pretty much everywhere around the world, making public transportation a necessity all over the place. Close to 65% of people in London, Moscow, and New York City alone take a taxi to their destination at least once on an monthly basis. In fact, of the 1 million cars there are swerving in and out of the jammed NYC avenues, approximately 60,000 of them are taxi cabs.
It’s only natural then, that the tech industry is chomping at the bit to grab a piece of the profits that are up for grabs as a result of the average city-dweller’s desire to get from here to there without a hitch. Specifically, two new cyber services are trying to hail you down (via your smartphone) and be the first to help you buzz your way around your busy city.
Currently a hit in Russia, Israel and the UK, the GetTaxi service is due to hit the Big Apple in the next few months. The app allows users to order a cab via their smartphones or computers via a highly easy-to-navigate UI. A user simply places an order – et voila, an idling cabbie is instantly notified of the user’s request and current location. Even the most impatient users will delight in this service, as they can follow their requested chauffer (via the GPS tracking on their smartphone) as he weaves his way to the pick-up spot.
TLC, New York Cty’s Taxi and Limousine Commission has been accepting applications for a while now from companies similar to GetTaxi who want to foster the process of bringing mobile payments into NYC taxis. Jing Wang Herman, founder and CEO of GetTaxi, is itching at the chance to bring the app into NYC. In an interview with Mashable.com, Herman stated, “ GetTaxi will bring New York City a far superior user experience as far as taxis are concerned…Our users will be able to easily and securely book a taxi in one click. In five years, the taxi experience won’t look anything like it does today.” And Herman is not alone when it comes to having faith in a vision for revolutionizing the taxi experience – investors all over the world have already thrown in $20 million in preparation for GetTaxi’s debut in NYC.
Here’s how the app should work, as described by GetTaxi’s UK CEO, Neal Fullman:
For a more private-driver experience, there’s Uber. A free app for your smartphone, Uber allows users to order private car. The service is currently available in 14 major cities including Chicago, New York, Vancouver and San Francisco.
Since Uber provides door-to-door service via a private car rather than a taxi, you can expect their fares to be a bit higher than GetTaxi. On that note, however, you can also count on a more elite experience overall. Payment can be handled completely via your smartphone, and to ensure quality of your future Uber experience, as well as that of other travelers, you can rate your driver on a five-star system, based on friendliness, cleanliness and more.
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