Taxi Pro drives into taxi app traffic jam
Monday, January 30, 2012/
A nineteen-year-old entrepreneur based in Sydney is the latest developer to launch an online service for taxi users, identifying taxi payment system Cabcharge as its main competitor.
Zac Altman, 19, developed Taxi Pro during his final year in high school before being awarded a scholarship to the University of Technology in Sydney.
The service, the latest in a flurry of taxi app start-ups, allows users to make taxi bookings through cab networks including Premier Cabs, Taxis Combined and Legion Cabs. It sees Cabcharge as its main competitor.
Cabcharge is the national charge account system for taxis. It can be used in taxis throughout Australia and various other countries.
However, the Taxi Pro iPhone app attracted more than 40,000 users before it was formally advertised, predominantly by word-of-mouth.
In December last year, Taxi Pro released its Android app, which saw Altman come second in the Unleash Your App competition, launched by Optus and National ICT Australia.
At present, Taxi Pro supports taxi networks in Sydney and Adelaide, but is yet to expand to Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Altman’s approach towards taxi booking is to directly connect with the networks while allowing them full control over fulfilling their bookings.
“Taxi Pro allows users to book taxis, plain and simple,” Altman says.
“Users don’t need excess features like a taxi whistle or data-heavy maps. They just want to get a taxi and that’s what I care about.”
“You can buy users with advertising but to keep them, you need to provide a great experience. Users keep coming back to Taxi Pro because I provide the best experience.”
Altman says while he has received offers to purchase the Taxi Pro app, he has so far declined, saying he prefers to continue working on the service, including growing its user base.
Taxi Pro follows in the footsteps of Ingogo and GoCatch, both of which are apps for taxi bookings, although GoCatch has been accused of compromising passenger safety.
Last year, the NSW Taxi Council said the GoCatch app – which allows users to track and book nearby taxis via their iPhones – 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,” CEO Peter Ramshaw told The Sunday Telegraph.
GoCatch works by using GPS to allow passengers to locate nearby taxis and book them. They can track the progress of the taxi using Google Maps.
GoCatch co-founder Andrew Campbell told StartupSmart GoCatch is working on an update to improve the safety aspect of the service.
“We are planning to release an update that allows passengers and drivers to rate each other,” he said.
“That will help build a professional reputation for the drivers and provide an idea of the reliability of passengers. [But] we don’t want to make the app too limiting.”
“It’s a great concern that the Taxi Council has said this. But the people in the industry that really matter are the drivers and the passengers. If they don’t get what they want from the industry, they will look elsewhere.”