Flywheel expands Uber-like system for taxi cabs to NYC

Taxi startup Flywheel is officially making its move into New York City, with the aim to better equip old-school taxis to take on Uber and Lyft. Flywheel recently received approval from the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission to operate TaxiOS, its smartphone-based taxi meter that comes with electronic dispatch, payments, navigation and GPS-based metering.

Competitors like Arro by Creative Mobile Technologies and Way2Ride by Verifone, which also market themselves as surge-free alternatives to Uber and Lyft, also have their own digital hailing and payment apps.

“This has been the quintessential duopoly,” Bhambani said. “For better part of decade, they have been the only licensees to do this until now. This is what we’re breaking up — this duopoly.”

Back in December, Flywheel received approval to launch its TaxiOS across California after a successful pilot program in San Francisco. Fast forward to today and Flywheel has 400 of the roughly 1,800 taxis in San Francisco using TaxiOS, Flywheel COO Oneal Bhambani told me. In New York, the goal is to replace the old-school taxi meters in over 1,000 cabs by end of this year.

Down the road, Flywheel envisions putting a Samsung tablet in the backseat for passengers to access Wi-Fi hot spots and entertainment, Bhambani said. Flywheel has also been providing last-mile delivery for e-commerce companies for the last two years. Bhambani would not disclose how many companies Flywheel does this for, nor the names of those companies. Though, word on the street is that Amazon is one of those companies.

Flywheel currently operates in seven cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and now New York City.