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Hailo Launches Taxi App in Boston

British-based company Hailo has launched its taxi-finding app in Boston thanks in large part to Vanessa Kafka, Boston general manager for Hailo and MIT Sloan School of Management graduate.

The app works as follows: Hailo users select their location on a map and “tag” a nearby driver. If the driver is available, the app gives him the user’s location information and he picks up his new passenger. Further streamlining the process, Hailo users can use the app to see where the cab currently is and how long it will take to reach them. Plus the app stores credit card information, so electronic payment is an option. The app currently services twelve cities in total, including London, Dublin, Barcelona, Tokyo, New York, Toronto, and now Boston.

Boston’s transit system differs from those of other major cities in one significant way. “Everyone knows about the transit gap,” notes Kafka, “the need for rides after the MBTA shuts down and bars close in the early morning. This is a big inconvenience but proves that taxis are an important part of the transportation network.”

Kafka performed extensive research in Boston to understand the inimitable issues facing its taxi drivers. Because Hailo provides a direct connection between the driver and a would-be rider, many of these issues are sidestepped.

“There are about 6,000 licensed drivers here, and the cab industry, like almost everywhere in the US is heavily regulated. The medallion system – the licenses that permit taxi operation – is unique to the city,” explains Kafka, “Like many places, some drivers have feelings of being taken advantage of by either the dispatcher, medallion owners, or regulators.”

Widespread use of the app has the potential to revolutionize the current Boston taxi system precisely because it doesn’t rely on line-of-sight interactions; standing outside in the dead of winter trying to hail a cab that already has a passenger may very well become a thing of the past.

“The taxi industry globally is more than 400 years old,” asserts Kafka, “and like anything that age, has room to grow and improve.”

 

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