Here on Transport Blog we don’t tend to cover too many taxi related stories, but a tweet from Richard Branson has alerted me to Hailo, a mobile app designed to make hailing a cab easier.   Originated by three cabbies in London, Hailo is rolling out to a number of cities, including Dublin, Toronto, New York and San Francisco.


The Hailo app (iPhone or Android) features a map that displays all Hailo enabled cabs within your current location. A cab can be ordered with just two taps of the app and the driver’s approach can be seen in real-time. Hailo drivers accept cards or cash and there’s no surcharge for doing so. There’s no charge simply for having the cab show up and, as a bonus to Hailo users, cabs will wait for up to five minutes at no charge. Customers only pay the metered amount. If passengers register a card, they don’t even need to carry cash. Hailo have prepared a 30 second clip of how it works:

Cab drivers have their own app that they use to accept fares:


As well as the features you would expect such as accepting a job, and taking payment, the app has some other pretty cool features, like a chat / event feature that drivers can use to alert other drivers of traffic issues or “bursts” of business.

To me this has great potential to grow well beyond the “hailing” functionality.  The app could well become a replacement for the taxi dispatcher console and the taxi meter itself.   The whole concept of a taxi company dispatcher could be eliminated, which could, in theory, lead to lower overheads for taxi drivers and lower costs for users.

Elements of this are already starting to be utilitised. In their latest blog posting, Hailo have announced that on Friday and Saturday nights, there will be a minimum fare of £10, to incentivise drivers to pick-up Hailo jobs.  They are also trialling a fixed-price guaranteed fare to the airport.

Hailo’s business model is to take 10% commission, but the competition is hotting up, with other apps such as London cab:app, Taxi App and Taxi Square in the market.

So what do you think – is this the killer app the taxi industry in Auckland needs?  Hailo are claiming over 10,000 London cabbies are already Hailo enabled.  Hailo only offer the service via registered black cab drivers, but could the concept be extended to ridesharing?   This is something that ridesharing websites such as Jayride should be looking at very closely.

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  1. I heard that similar schemes are quite popular in Germany now. I certainly love the convenience (including not having to pay the driver directly) – unsure what it will mean for the taxi industry (as opposed to user convenience) overall. Could spark quite some vicious competition…

  2. Why would taxi’s want to give away 10% of their fare? Similar tech has run into problems in NYC with legislative issues relating to how cabs must behave. Also, does this give those with fancy phones advantages over others who are trying to get in the same taxi?

    I’ve never felt like the taxi system is very broken here — need a cab, call them and they arrive in a few minutes. The dispatcher can provide pretty accurate guess at the cost of the ride too.

    1. “Why would taxi’s want to give away 10% of their fare?”

      For the same reason anyone gives money to a service provider: the befits that come with it: If a hailing app gets you significantly more jobs than your own dispatcher, you pay the 10% fee gladly – an empty taxi is a non-earning taxi.

      1. You have got it spot on, as a London cabbie, Hailo is doing great, more than happy to pay the 10%.
        Less time using up diesel, more bums on seats.

        Be lucky


    2. “I’ve never felt like the taxi system is very broken here”

      No, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Not sure about your legal aspect – unsure why it should not work here. NZ is so deregulated, I bet there’s comparable few rules in the way of such things.

  3. We know NZ is a free market and 21st century technology like App brings in some cool option to the customer.
    In a free market customer is the king…
    Factors like convenience, savings, option to choose, feel to be in control will govern success.

  4. isn’t Taxi Charge developing a similar system in association with the various taxi companies involved in the national ‘Blue Bubble’ taxi network?

    The drivers I have spoken to Hamilton and Wellington are keen on the idea.

    The concept is similar, where Taxi Charge will have a smartphone App, allowing the App user to book a taxi from their smartphone and pay for their ride using ‘Tap & Go’ electronic payment or EFTPOS.

    Hamilton Taxis have upgraded their fleet with a new electronic dispatch system and will be shortly upgrading the EFTPOS system for card/smartphone ‘Tap & Go’ payments.

    Hamilton Taxis is a ‘Blue Bubble’ fleet partner.

    For further information concerning Blue Bubble –

  5. I’m generally dog on the idea of carpooling as it never seems to work outside of third world ‘jitneys’ but with a version of this when oil next goes through the roof could actually help people just survive in their cars a little longer by picking up a few randoms and informally getting a few bucks from them… Kind of like minicabs in London.

    Not what the developers had in mind but it does strike me as the only way to scale ridesharing.

    Great for taxis too.

  6. Used to use a similar service in the states called Uber. Oh man, it’s revolutionary when you start using it, you feel like you’ve stepped back into the stoneage having to get a taxi the old fashioned way. Everything is handled through the app — billing charges your card automatically based on distance, your tip is included (no extra tipping), you rate your driver, you get to see where they are and their progress on a map while you’re waiting for them, so on. The cars are nicer, and the fares are more or less on par with the regular unreliable taxi companies (which means that compared to NZ the fares are much cheaper). Really expect more of this now.

    1. Can’t agree more,
      Über have kicked off in London, I think they will do well, choice of vehicles, a bit pricer than a black cab,
      Only problem is with uber, are drivers, very reliant on sat navs.

      Be lucky


  7. I’ve used it – I live in London. I don’t normally catch cabs as they cost a lot (as everything else does in London) and London Transport apps let me catch my bus to and from work without having to wait at the bus stop for long but I’ve used it twice now – to and from the coach station to go to the airport.

    Normally I’d walk down the road – lugging the suitcases (and wife) with me – to the bus stop knowing that even if I wanted a cab, one wouldn’t necessarily passing the door. With Hailo I can see where the local cabs are, how many are around and the expected time to catch one. I can do the payment and tip through the app, and I can monitor where the cab is going (in anywhere but London I’d be afraid they were “taking me for a ride”, so to speak) and that was two journeys the cab trade would have missed out on if it wasn’t for Hailo.

    There’s also a degree of dealing with Kiwi/UK deference here – I’m much more likely to use a cab “if it’s already passing by” than make an effort to “order one for a specific time” (er…how pompous).

    Not only an extremely easy and elegant app, the people behind it put a lot of thought into what’s best for the rider (customer) and the cabby. A recent change in a newsletter to customers was making a minimum £10 fare for late night journeys as cabbys weren’t making themselves available for tiny fares that late – so they put the minimum to increase the availability to riders and better business for the cabbys. Most impressed. Will definitely use it again – if I have any money left 😉

  8. As a London cabbie, you may be aware we spend on average 4 years studying the world famous knowledge, learning 24,000 streets, as well as around 25,000 places of interest. Hailo has revolutionised the way Londoners use us cabbies, it’s made us more streamlined, no more standing around getting wet, tap two buttons, and we are there. Happy to pay the 10%, my work has increased enormously.

    Be lucky


  9. Chris i will be direct to you-4 years you study the “knowledge”-??? den u have NO-dress code??? U dress like 3-grade Taxi-Driver??? and u have no customer service ??? and everytime i see “YOU”,in the city of London,you are driving and locking in you-A-Z-bulshet book??? 24 000 streets me ass………
    do u know where city road is in London ???

    1. I can only assume by your recent post, that you have no idea on what it takes to become a London cabbie. Highly regarded around the world as the best taxi and drivers. What you have to remember is that a London cabbie makes a career choice, to become a London cabbie as it takes years to study.
      Now take your average mini cab driver, particularly London mini cab drivers, they tend to be from abroad, mainly immigrants, with no special skills. Purchase a sat Nav and off they go. They also tend to be transient and jump from job to job.

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