The co-founder of taxi app goCatch says the start-up has settled its differences with the NSW Taxi Council, almost one year after the council said the app compromises passenger safety.
The goCatch app, launched in June last year, connects taxi drivers and passengers directly, enabling passengers to catch taxis easily and give their driver a rating out of five.
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Last week, goCatch signed a distribution deal with GM Cabs, which processes the largest volume of taxi fares in Australia.
The agreement will see GM Cabs provide marketing support to increase taxi driver downloads, and operational support to engage and train taxi drivers.
It is a major coup for goCatch, which copped criticism from the NSW Taxi Council when it launched.
Last year, NSW Taxi Council chief executive Peter Ramshaw told the Sunday Telegraph the goCatch app was a hazard as it bypassed the traditional call dispatch process.
“If unauthorised networks are dispatching taxis, (passengers) cannot guarantee that the driver has been authorised by NSW Transport,” he said.
Under NSW regulations, dispatch networks must only use drivers who have passed criminal history checks and have a valid driver’s licence.
According to goCatch co-founder Andrew Campbell, those claims were alarmist.
“Things have changed significantly since then… A Taxi Council spokesperson said the council has no issue with the app if it was linked to an authorised booking service,” Campbell says.
“Those claims were not entirely accurate, partly because goCatch improves the safety of passengers and drivers – it reduces the possibility of anonymity.”
“If someone is trying to do something untoward or illegal, they would be crazy to use goCatch.”
“We are intent on working with industry to increase the safety and reliability of people catching taxis.”
According to Taxi Council spokesperson Tracey Cain, the goCatch app is “a great piece of technology”.
“Our concern is there are very strict regulations governing the taxi industry,” Cain says.
“You have to have an authorised network to process bookings, which makes you accountable for every booking you do process, every booking you don’t process, lost property, etc.”
“Our only concern has ever been that if you compromise the regulations, you compromise service standards and you compromise safety.”
“We have no issue with the technology being used through an authorised booking agent [such as GM Cabs].”