Taxi app triggers law suit from cab companies
Published Thursday, February 21, 2013 4:58PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2013 5:57PM MST
A Smartphone app that puts customers in touch with taxi drivers directly has local cab companies in an uproar.
Jeff Doepker came up with the idea after his wife needed a ride home from her job downtown and he was concerned about her waiting alone for a cab.
Doepker built an app called FastCab which bypasses cab company dispatchers and connects the driver directly to the customer.
“The app puts the transaction of catching a cab back in the hands of the two people who care about it the most and that's the person who wants the ride and the person that's being paid to give you a ride,” said Doepker.
Users simply request a cab, enter the pickup location and a list of FastCab drivers will be displayed.
Select the driver you want and then watch the GPS map in real-time as the cab comes to your location.
The app allows customers the ability to offer a cash incentive for speedy service.
“We’re not securing the tip. We’re not guaranteeing it. A passenger is saying I’m willing to pay you an extra five bucks if you come and pick me up quickly. I can watch you real-time, I know when to come outside,” said Doepker.
The system also lets users rate drivers and share their experience on social media.
FastCab has local cab companies so upset they've filed a million dollar lawsuit alleging unfair competition saying the app creates a queue jumping system.
“Creating the incentive, creates a different class of taxi users, the one that could pay more or less so it's not a fair system,” said Roger Richard from Associated Cabs.
The app works on iPhone and Android phones and requires the user to register.
Doepker says he talked to hundreds of cab drivers and customers before he launched the app and he has 260 cabbies registered so far.
“It’s completely up to the drivers whether they accept hails through FastCab,” said Doepker. “But ultimately our goal here is to make sure that people who want a ride are able to get a ride.”
A report prepared for Calgary's Taxi Commission says Smartphone taxi apps don't break the rules and there's no reason existing cab companies can't offer the same service.
The issue will be before the commission on Friday.