Taxi app could make it easier to find a cab in SF


San Francisco residents know how hard it is to find a cab in the city especially in neighborhoods like the Sunset and Richmond Districts. So you’ll be glad to hear a it will soon be easier to actually find a cab in The City using a new smartphone app.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board approved creating an Electronic Taxi Access System that would track the location of all 1,700 cabs in the city in real-time. App developers would be able connect to the SFMTA taxi network to create the app.

The transit agency acknowledges third-party taxi apps are readily available now, but those apps are only contracted with certain taxi companies or drivers.

The announcement of the new app comes on the heels of numerous complaints from cab drivers about losing business to car services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar. These car services already use smart phone apps as their main tool for customers to contact them.

SFMTA board Director Malcolm Heinicke said that the development of the SFMTA taxi app is a response to those companies:

“It’s my firm belief that the best way to compete with and neutralize threats to the cab industry is to build a better cab industry that competes better with those applications and allows our drivers better access to the fare that are out there.”

Ben Vallace, who drives for Veteran’s Cab, said it’s time for a universal app. Vallace said apps like Fly Wheel are tracking 700 cabs in the city, but an app with 1,700 cabs would provide better access for customers:

“This a really big way to solve a demand issue. We need all the cabs in the same app. We need an app that works right that connects passengers directly with passengers… I think we can do it and it’s about time.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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