For anyone who’s stood at a corner wondering if they’ll ever see a cab, or tried to pay with plastic and been fed the “machine is broken” line, Hailo is a godsend. The free app—which was conceived in London, England, by a team of cabbies and tech types and has been downloaded over half a million times globally—hit Toronto this fall.
How it works: You log in, the GPS finds you, and then offers options for pick-ups. The job is offered to the closest cab, and once they accept, you get their contact info (and reviews from other passengers), and can even give them a ring, while a timer tells you how long until that car is at your doorstep. The upside for the cabbie is that they have peace of mind knowing that the payment is secured via credit card.
Pros: While convenient technology is central to the business, Hailo Network Canada president Justin Raymond says, “It’s more about the drivers.” Hailo drivers aren’t exclusive to the company, and treat the app like you would a freelancing side gig. “We work with licenced Toronto taxi drivers [who] have taken the [Hailo] course, and continue to carry a valid and verified licence,” says Raymond. Hailo’s rates, meanwhile, work the way a normal cab would, except you must pay through a credit card attached to your Hailo account. Hailo’s cut? “We take a 15 per cent commission on every order,” says Raymond, adding that his company covers all transaction fees.
Snags: The taxi app scene isn’t without its controversy, though. Hailo’s main app competitor, Uber, has run into licensing trouble and pricing concerns. And only a few weeks after its Toronto launch, allegations of cab firms bullying drivers to stop using Hailo are already emerging.
Why it’s popular: Besides bringing taxi-passenger communication and payment into modern times, the app cuts down on wasted time and gas. “Because we’re using GPS, the driving distance is typically cut in half from a traditional dispatch order,” says Raymond. Over 600 cabbies are already enrolled and have been trained at their Queen Street East headquarters, and as word—and smartphone use—spreads, it may not be long before the only gestures you’ll need to make to hail a cab will be swipes and taps.
Have you used Hailo to hail a cab? How well did it work for you? Let us know in the comments section below.