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Cab Commission concerned about client-to-car connector app
Published Friday, February 22, 2013 5:52PM MST
Last Updated Friday, February 22, 2013 6:27PM MST
Calgary's taxi commission met on Friday to discuss the issue of ehail phone apps that connect passengers directly to cabbies.
Jeff Doepker is the creator of FastCab, an app that lets you order a cab from your Smartphone.
Doepker’s app connects customers with cabs in Calgary and bypasses the dispatcher at the taxi company.
Drivers, passengers and Doepker say the app brings hailing a taxi into the 21st century and makes the whole process a lot easier.
The taxi commission acknowledges there are concerns and worries unlicenced cabs will sign on to the ehail app.
The commission fears customers will be pressured to tip because the app allows customers to offer a monetary incentive for quick service.
It is also concerned that drivers from surrounding communities will be ehailed into the Calgary area where they are not supposed to be Picking up fares.
“Somebody is trying to get into business using our asset, using our infrastructure, to make money," said Roger Richards from Associated Cabs.
A report prepared for Calgary's Taxi Commission says Smartphone taxi apps don't break the rules and there’s no reason existing cab company can't offer the same service.
It also suggests that phone apps and similar opportunities aren't going away and brokers and the city need to find a way to evolve while addressing the concerns.
The report also proposes that drivers be prevented from "booking off" or accepting only hailed fares, not dispatch fares.
The drivers would be forced to stay plugged into dispatch to prevent too many drivers from prioritizing hail or ehail trips over ones from the taxi broker dispatch.
Some drivers at the meeting are in favour of the apps.
"My main concern is about the quality of service to the customers, because if you provide better quality, we will automatically get back better," said Rajeev Kapil.
The cab companies have launched a million dollar lawsuit against Doepker alleging unfair competition.