In April, New York City approved a pilot program to let people to hail cabs on their smartphones. UberTaxi became the first approved participant in the pilot program that seemed poised to revolutionize the way we hail cabs.
But according to initial data from the program's first month, these smartphone apps have miles to go before they become a ubiquitous alternative to waving your hand in the air on a street corner. In June, smartphone-based taxi requests accounted for less than 0.25% of all yellow cab rides hailed in the city.
It's reasonable to assume the ability to order a car wherever you are could extend service to more far-flung areas where taxicabs may normally be scarce. But pilot data shows nearly 80% of rides requested in June came from within Manhattan. In Staten Island, where Taxi and Limousine commissioner David Yassky says "finding a yellow taxi is just one step above finding a unicorn," five potential passengers requested taxis from their phones (and just one actually got a ride) in the entire month.
Perhaps surprisingly, only 17% of the 117,000 requests made through e-hailing apps translated into actual transactions, in which a driver successfully picked up the passenger who originally requested the ride. There are several reasons why a ride requested via smartphone might not be successful: I've had drivers double-book rides; I've skipped out on an inbound cab because I found an available one sooner (oops); and, one time, I actually caught a stranger attempting to get into the UberTaxi I had hailed minutes after my Hailo ride canceled on me.
Of course, this is only data culled from the first four weeks of a 12-month program. But we want to know: Have you ever used a smartphone app to hail a cab? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments.
[Image: Flickr user danichro]