Flywheel Helps Cabs in War Against Uber
Much of the argument in favor of Uber, when not indulging in disgusting tirades against people earning tips as part of their living, has to do with the ease of use that Uber provides by comparison to taxi companies.
The user is not required to talk to anyone on the phone, can pay easily by credit card (which is also the case in major cities like New York City), and has at their fingertips more information about the ride. When it will be arriving, how much it will cost, and so forth. And don’t forget, Uber doesn’t like drivers earning tips, a point of unresolved contention. Uber has not been received as some savior for economical transportation in major cities. In fact, it’s met heavy resistance from an archaic industry which must either modernize and scale, or die. Flywheel hopes to help cab companies do that.
Flywheel’s app for drivers and riders is not new, but it has long made the ease of Uber possible for cabs as well. The tracking feature, paying with credit card, and notifications are all there, just as they are with Uber. But now the company is going further, aiming to refit cabs with modern equipment as opposed to the ancient metering systems presently in place in many. Flywheel wants to replace all the old hardware with a smartphone outfitted with software that accurately tracks as well as meters once did and a credit card reader.
They believe that their new platform, called TaxiOS, tracks the distance traveled by a cab accurately, more than the traditional methods which used tire rotation as a metric. Flywheel’s CFO Oneal Bhambani told Time that regulators are in favor of using phones rather than traditional meters. San Francisco is the first city where Flywheel is trying to get the system in use. They’re also working on a pilot program with New York regulators, who will likely see the value of Flywheel’s ethos overall.
Like most technologies, the network effect is important. The more drivers that sign up with the system, the better experience users will have, experiencing shorter wait times wherever they are in the city. The company will make a small amount with each credit card transaction. Cab drivers will have a new weapon in the fight against Uber, and customers will benefit from using known entities – professional drivers – instead of amateur drivers who may or may not have criminal intentions.
Silicon Valley bigwigs have gone to great lengths to defend Uber against all foes, but in the end, the attitude toward Uber is hostile among many groups. Uber accounts are regularly hacked and sold on the dark net, regardless of the company denying it time and again.
The overall novelty of creating a smart phone that connects amateur drivers with riders is minimal, but the rewards for Uber have been in the billions. Firing drivers for accepting tips but deflecting responsibility for those who harm customers appears to be par for the course. With any luck, Flywheel and things like it can help the cab companies give the amateur driver service a run for its money. After all, if there’s one thing they have that Uber doesn’t, it is experience.
Featured image from Shutterstock.