After several years of being disrupted by Uber, a Toronto ride-hailing app developer is finally working in partnership with Canada’s taxi industry to launch a new transit app called The Ride.
The question becomes, though: Is adopting Uber-like technology now too little, too late for Canada’s taxi industry?
“Today’s commuters, especially millennials, depend on technology and real time information to get around, and apps are a big part of this. So we set out to develop Canada’s most comprehensive ‘get-me-there’ app,” said CellWand co-founder and CEO Nick Quain. “The Ride is Canada’s ultimate transportation solution because it includes every taxi company and combines access to all available public transit options, map directions, and carshare locations across Canada, with just a few taps within the app.”
Available for iOS and Android, The Ride allows users to hail a cab or find the best local transit alternative for their needs, including finding ZipCar and Car2Go carshare locations, looking up bus and subway timetables, light-rapid transit and streetcar information, laid out to compare trip duration and cost.
The Ride is partnering with the major mobile carriers across Canada, and is also the exclusive National Taxi and Transit App sponsor of MADD Canada.
In-app payment and bike sharing integration is promised as a “coming soon” feature.
Features like these are already old hat, though, for people who’ve gotten used to using a combination of Uber and Transit App.
The Ride’s success depends on the possibility that there still exists a majority of Canadians who don’t use Uber owing to its novelty.
It is just possible that Uber’s traction in the press is more the result of savvy PR than real-world traction, combined with an unusually vocal user base who have become champions for the triumph of itinerant labour over what they see as the entrenched “monopoly” of the taxi industry.
“The Ride is a great example of innovation within the regulated transportation industry and the Canadian Taxi Association is excited to see its launch. The app is a great service for Canadians and it aligns with existing city and transportation regulations,” says Jim Bell, executive director of the Canadian Taxi Association and former general manager of Diamond Taxi in Toronto. “With no exclusive fleet affiliation, The Ride ensures the commuter is the main priority and offers one of the closest licensed taxis. I think this is the type of app our politicians and regulators need to look at as an example of the right way of innovating within our industry.”
Created by CellWand Communications, The Ride is partnering with several of Canada’s taxi fleets, and is now connected to over 6,000 taxis at launch, with 3,000 more taxis set to be integrated.
In markets where the app is not yet available, The Ride connects a user to the dispatch of fleets representing all 25,000 taxis across Canada.
Like Uber, users can rate taxi drivers, all of whom are trained, licensed and insured, as per taxi industry standards. Users can also rate taxi companies, which isn’t possible in Uber because Uber employees work for no one, including Uber.
Unlike Uber, The Ride users get standard taxi fleet pricing, doing away with the sheer predatory annoyance of Uber’s “surge pricing” algorithm.
What’s notable about the rise of Uber has been its traction among an aspirational demographic that regards protectionist forms of government and labour as ripe for technological disruption.
One senses that no app endorsed by the taxi industry is going to win that cohort over, owing to the fact that their beef with the taxi industry is based not so much on a love of technology as on a dislike of organized labour and government.
Since Uber has recently been “valued” at $68 billion, making it bigger than Ford, GM and Honda combined, even though it has no fleet of cars, no equipment and no employees outside of app developers and its PR team, one has to wonder if Uber has become big enough to merit a little disruption itself.
Is there actually any there there, or is Uber a clothes-free emperor? Time will tell.
For everyone else, The Ride presents a form of innovation that the taxi industry should have proactively adopted years ago, when there was still a chance of winning the hearts and minds of the public during Uber’s rise to the top.
The Ride is available for download from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
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