Cabs can finally take advantage of smartphone features like electronic payments, GPS, and estimated travel costs. Catching a ride with the Taxi Magic app was the most pleasant experience I’ve had with a cab so far, and it demonstrates that they can compete with lower-cost personal sedan-services like UberX and Lyft. The updated app includes a slick new user interface, scheduling rides for later, and the option to favorites fleet companies and locations. “Taxi Magic, it really makes a difference in business,” said my driver, who explained that the app has helped bolster the sagging cab business. Indeed, Taxi Magic, which is available in 39 markets, estimates that their app accounts for 20% of rides in their top fleets.
Luddite cab companies were blindsided with services like Uber, which allowed users to hail a cab from their phone, pay electronically, and see how long it would take for the nearest driver to arrive. The premium car company has given cab companies enough of a scare that when it announced new lower cost services, the Washington DC legislature attempted to mandate price floors to bolster their competition with cabs.
My experience with Taxi Magic was smooth. Registering with my credit card was easy, and it took a cab about 8 minutes to show up. GPS tracking of the cab wasn’t as smooth as Uber, though: they cab jumped from 1.4 miles away to right next to me, without any distance in between. I was also able to estimate the cost of the cab before I scheduled it– an especially nice feature for travelers in a new city unfamiliar with local rates. After we arrived at the destination, I had to pay through my phone before I exited the cab, and was presented with a few options to rate my experience (such as the car’s sanitary condition).
With high user demand, it’s no surprise Taxi Magic has competition. Both GetTaxi and Hailo are available internationally, and Hailo is available in NYC, Boston and Chicago.
Overall, the smartphone-infused taxi experience was pleasant and paperless; I can’t imagine taking a cab the old way again.