After being caught like a deer in Uber’s headlights for the past five years, the taxi industry appears to be waking up, writes Matthew Flamm of Crain’s in New York.
Verifone Taxi Systems announced Wednesday that its recently acquired cab-hailing app Curb (previously Taxi Magic) will soon launch in New York with an advance-booking feature—the first of its kind among the city’s myriad ride-hailing apps.
Verifone operates payment systems and backseat TVs in about 14,000 New York City taxis—including about half of all yellow cabs—and already has a cab-hailing app, Way2Ride. Curb, which it bought in October, operates in 60 cities and gives the company a national footprint. Verifone is integrating the two apps and will “sunset” Way2Ride by the end of the year, said Amos Tamam, the company’s senior vice president, in an interview.
Curb—and its advance-booking feature—will roll out on a limited trial basis during the next few weeks and become available across the city in April. In addition to Verifone’s apps, competitor Creative Mobile Technologies, or CMT—which has its TVs and payment systems in the other half of all city yellow cabs—launched e-hailing app Arro last September. And another app, Karhoo, will launch next month in partnership with Verifone’s cabs and a slew of livery-car services.
Verifone is working on integrating Curb with rival CMT’s system so that the app will hail rides from all 22,000 yellow and green cabs in the city.
Tamam said he expected the integration to be done by mid-summer.
He added that in addition to its advance-booking feature, Curb has the advantage of consistent, metered rates: unlike Uber, cabs don’t have surge pricing. “It doesn’t matter about the time of day, or if it’s raining,” Tamam said. “And when we integrate with CMT, that’s double the number of cabs. When the user can hit a button and get a cab in two minutes, that’s a better service.”
- Amos Tamam promises faster cab-booking with Verifone’s Curb.