Flywheel claims to be the world’s first and only regulator-approved, GPS-based taxi meter – and is stepping up competition against rivals Uber and Lyft

Traditional taxi firms in California hope state-approval of the TaxiOS app will help them outperform unregulated rivals such as Lyft and Uber
Traditional taxi firms in California hope state-approval of the TaxiOS app will help them outperform unregulated rivals such as Lyft and Uber. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

California’s state regulators have approved TaxiOS, an app for hailing traditional taxis – making it the first and only GPS-based taxi meter in the world approved for use by state regulators.

Customers can view a real-time display of their current ride price, though drivers can lower their rates during off times so the cost can be split between friends or a carpool group, similar to the Uber Pool and Lyft Line options offered by its ride-sharing competitors.

Traditional taxis hope the app will help them compete against their new and unregulated rivals.

“Ride hailing apps have added a lot of value to the on-demand economy, but TaxiOS is actually positioned to out perform [those companies] in many situations,” said Percy Rajani, CTO of parent company Flywheel. The hope is to combine the convenience of ride-sharing services such as Uber with the reliability of traditional taxis.”

While it doesn’t maintain a fleet of its own, Flywheel currently works closely with California-based DeSoto cabs. Based in San Francisco, these cabs are often wrapped in Flywheel branding and have been using a legal hail-and-ride app for quite some time.

Tuesday’s announcement takes things a step further, allowing you to view a virtual meter while you ride. The TaxiOS was officially approved by California’s division of measurement standards, enabling the OS to legally replace taximeters as well as the navigation system, payment system, and dispatch for taxicabs.

“For the protection of all Californians, we have very high standards for accuracy in commercial measuring devices throughout the state,” Kristin Macey, director of California’s division of measurement standards said in a statement.

“Working with Flywheel, we put its metering software through a wide variety of tests under very challenging conditions. We determined that the software provides the same level of accuracy as a taximeter and gives consumers a real-time display of current ride price, something they expect in a taxicab. The Flywheel system also complies with our existing regulations that taximeters must meet, to charge passengers by time or distance depending on the vehicle’s speed, never both at the same time.”

Unlike Uber and Lyft, which often opt to charge a flat rate for rides, Flywheel’s solution charges you specifically for how long you’re in the cab and how far you’ve traveled, just like any other cab. Also like traditional cabs, you’ll never be hit with “surge” or “prime time” pricing when there’s high demand. Drivers can opt to drop the price, however, when business is slow.

“If a driver is willing to accept lower fares (by opting in), he will receive orders that are lower than the regulated meter,” Rajani says. “Passengers will be notified of discounted times and areas via messaging, and when they open the app in a discounted time window, they will see the discount. The hail will only go to drivers who have opted in.”

Discounts are universal for a geographical area, for instance, all rides during a designated time in San Francisco might be at a lower rate which will be offered to all riders and honored by all drivers in the area at the time.

The new OS also enables cabs to be used for package delivery and adds flexible schedule options for drivers, enabling them to make their own schedule similar to how Uber and Lyft drivers can turn the app off and on based on when they would like to work.

In addition to San Francisco, Flywheel is currently available in a number of large metropolitan areas including Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, Sacramento, and Portland. TaxiOS will be available to all cabs, regardless of their ownership.

[Source:-the gurdian]

By Adam