Starting today, 7,000 yellow cabs will begin offering pooled rides in Manhattan through a collaboration with the mobile ridesharing app Via. Despite the fact that the app is technically a competitor, the taxi industry hopes it will increase drivers’ earnings, as they’ll spend less time searching for fares and will keep the tips from all riders, as well as increase ridership since passengers will receive discounts of up to 40 percent.
Via is the number one on-demand ridesharing app in the world, offering $5 flat fees. Started in New York, it now operates in Chicago and Washington, D.C. and is unique for its smart algorithm that matches passengers’ routes and directs them to the nearest and most convenient intersection for quick pickups and dropoffs. The new joint venture is in partnership with the yellow cabs’ Curb app, which lets riders order and pay for a taxi on their mobile device.
Jason Gross of Verifone Taxi Systems, which operates the Curb electronic payment systems in more than half of the city’s 14,000 cabs, likened the new partnership to “a hop-on, hop-off minibus,” and said drivers can now create an “endless ride” thanks to Via’s technology allowing them to head to the next passenger as soon as a seat frees up.
Similarly, Daniel Ramot, CEO and co-founder of Via, said: “Everyone benefits when we increase the efficiency of vehicles on the road. Cities benefit from reduced congestion and emissions, riders benefit from affordable and convenient transportation options, and drivers benefit from a system optimized to increase their earnings.”
According to an email from Via announcing the new service, here’s exactly how it’ll work:
- Request a ride through the Via app; if our algorithm finds a nearby available taxi, you’ll see a new booking option: Shared Taxi. No more hailing cabs from the curb!
- Just like any other Via, the Shared Taxi will pick you up on a nearby street corner.
- Shared Taxi fares are calculated using the meter. If we find another party headed your way, we’ll seamlessly match you and you’ll save 40% on any shared portions of your trip!
- No cash necessary! You’ll pay and tip directly through the app. A default tip of $1 will apply to each Shared Taxi ride. You can adjust the tip amount any time before your dropoff.
As Crain’s explains, “Since each party will pay 60% of what a non-pooled ride would cost, for a total of 120%, Verifone and Via will share the excess portion.”
For now, the Curb/Via offering is only available in Manhattan but is expected to roll out across the five boroughs in the coming months.
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