I am Austin, a 30 year taxi driver in San Francisco. I have a vision of an uniquely useful taxi hailing app, one that appeals where other apps don’t. It would have a more interactive feel for both drivers and passengers as opposed to a spoon fed quality present app options have. As a San Francisco prop K taxi medallion holder, I am highly motivated to see the public get to where they want to go and to see my fellow taxi drivers earn an honest living. I have a handful of ideas that would help connect any dial pad – smartphone, regular cellphone or landline to nearby, ready to go taxi drivers for little or no fee. Taxi drivers should not be having to pay extortionate percentages of fares to provide service to the public. Ideally, it would give passengers the option to pay with a Clipper card and or cash or credit. Consider this website to be an application to consult with Clipper and the SFMTA.
The ability for a person to request a taxi from a bus stop. The person could enter the number of the bus stop, either via an app or on a numerical dial pad from a non smartphone. The APP may also be able to sense which bus stop the potential customer is at, reducing data entry needs. Clipper could also allow people to sign up and assign their business or residential address to a phone number that instantly sends the location of the taxi service request. The computer could be set to check whether the customer is still waiting for service every few minutes.
The request for service would show up on not just one screen, but on every taxi screen in the vicinity able to provide service. The advantage to that is a driver doesn’t have to turn down more convenient offers of customers to get to that request and the customer does not have to feel guilty if a bus or other option shows up prior to any taxi showing up. Many customers don’t call a company because they know that if a bus shows up, they will be leaving a cab driver empty handed and many cab companies are reluctant to send a driver to a call they know is likely not to be there. It would probably be smart to train new drivers that it would be a fools errand to race to any of these bus stop requests, but rather to use the Clipper requests as a cruising option if they are empty and to be aware of other more convenient service requests. The request for services could be designed to show the driver which direction the bus stop is pointed, North, south, east or west, reducing the need for U turns and other difficult maneuvers and reducing the need for customers to jay walk.
Every bus stop in San Francisco has an ID number assigned to it. That number could be used to quickly determine a potential customers location. Stores, offices, pharmacies, residences and any location could be given an ID number to make it easier to send to a location, again, even if a person is using something other than a smartphone. A person requesting a Clippertaxi could broadcast their interest in a taxi and told to not feel guilty if a bus riding or other option avails itself prior to a taxi showing up. The customer would not have to be worried about being charged if they were gone when the taxi showed up.
The customer could be allowed to make the choice of using the Clipper card to pay for none, some or all of the ride. The customer could swipe their Clipper card at the beginning of the ride and be warned if their Clipper card will run out and allow the meter to collect payment balance by credit card or cash. I would in fact recommend that the customer be told to either swipe their clipper card or inform the driver at the beginning of the ride if they plan to use clipper just in case the customer unknowingly jumped into an unauthorized cab. Also allow a customer with cash or credit card and a Clipper card to transfer balance to Clipper in the taxi mid ride.
Outside San Francisco:
If you call a San Francisco taxi outside of San Francisco, you are usually informed that a San Francisco taxi cannot pick you up. It would be nice to provide Clippertaxi customers with a local taxi service or options. It should also be determined if San Francisco taxis could pick up in unincorporated areas or if agreements could be made with taxi companies in incorporated cities in the bay area.
Useful but anonymous transit supply service Data:
If a particular bus stop appears to have a higher volume of Clippertaxi requests, it could indicate a need for more frequent bus service to that stop. Good bus service actually benefits the taxi industry and efficient taxis benefit Muni telling citizens that they can depend on Muni to meet scheduled appointments and that they have the taxi option if they are running short on time.
Contact Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org
****Look for “I Drive SF” by Kelly Dessaint in the SF Examiner****
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