Taxi companies put the brakes on smartphone app

It was a cold and wet night when Mandeep Singh responded to an alert he got on his iPhone from an application he downloaded called Hailo.

The Hailo application, available to all iPhone and Android smartphone users, allows taxi riders to get the nearest cab in about five minutes just by clicking the application twice, bypassing the taxi company’s dispatcher altoghether.

Singh is a taxi driver who has been working for the Royal Taxi company for approximately six years. He explained that pedestrians tell him Hailo is a much more easier way to access a cab compared to phone.

“I always speak to people who tell me they are very thankful to the creators of the Hailo app because its quick and simple,” Singh said. “I’ve personally never had any problems with the app, I just get the notification and head to the destination.”

But Beck Taxi dispatcher Gregory Hines says that although this may seem like the perfect app for people who need a quick ride, it creates confusion within the dispatching office.

“Yes it’s good that people can hitch a ride in a matter of minutes, but that isn’t very useful to us when we have to keep track of fares,” he said. “This application isn’t connected to the dispatching office so we aren’t really able to see that a driver has a fare unless he registers it into his system which doesn’t always happen.”

Hines also explained that many of the taxi drivers are taking the full fare amount without notifying their headquarters about the customers they carry.

“Just last week I seen a driver confronted by management as soon as he walked into headquarters about a fare he did not register into the system,” Hines said.

“This is what I mean when I say it’s confusing. Drivers have to notify us about every dollar of money they make while on shift, whether it was done with Hailo or not.”

Singh said that he understood why companies such as Beck Taxi, would be upset by the app and also explained that he registers every fare received by Hailo into his system.

“Many drivers are crooked and I get why these companies are angry,” he said. “We don’t live in a perfect world where everyone follows rules so an agreement should be made.”

Toronto resident Kathy Rosales said that she goes out with friends almost every weekend and that the app comes in handy when she’s not sober enough to drive home.

“I do get a little drunk when Saturdays come around so driving home isn’t exactly the best idea,” she said. “Sometimes I even struggle to dial the numbers on my phone for a taxi so Hailo is the next best thing.”