In which The Author’s cousin develops a bright idea
My cousin Richard M. used to drive taxis, and he knows the perils of the business very well. From a cabbie’s point of view, there can be nothing worse than turning up at a pre-booked call, only to find that someone else has pinched the customer from under your nose. Similarly, if you’re stuck in the back of beyond with no local numbers to hand, trying to get a ride home can be difficult at best.
A couple of years ago, Richard decided to apply his mind to the problem. He spent a while analysing the business model from both points of view, and came up with a fantastic idea. He could use the latest technology to cut down on wasted trips, and enable customers to order a taxi wherever they were in the country.
Now he needed to find someone who could translate his idea into practical reality. He hooked up with a software developer, and eventually Taxibeeper was born.
Taxibeeper does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a smartphone application which works from both ends of the business relationship. Customers can download the app to their phones and keep it until they need it. There’s another version aimed at drivers.
In a nutshell, here’s how it works:
Let’s assume you’re stuck in an unfamiliar town and need a ride home. Your home address is already stored in your phone. Taxibeeper will find your location via GPS and calculate the fare from door to door, taking into account the variable costs applied by local authorities across the UK. If you accept the fare, a ‘beep’ is sent out to taxi drivers within a twelve mile radius. The first available driver to respond will cancel your ‘beep’, meaning that other drivers can’t poach your business. You get an estimated time of arrival, and another ‘beep’ when your ride is outside. Job done.
From the driver’s point of view, travelling further afield can be costly and unproductive affair. Taxibeeper can eliminate that empty journey as well, by notifying you of anyone wishing to take advantage of your vehicle on the return leg. You only pay a small fee for each ‘beep’, enabling you to maximise your vehicle usage and cut down on wasted mileage.
Richard showed me a demonstration of his system a few weeks ago, and I was thoroughly impressed. There are still a couple of bugs in the system, but once they’re ironed out, he’s confident that it will help to eliminate ‘rogue’ drivers. It adds an extra layer of security to the business of finding a taxi, and should help to streamline the whole process, whether you’re a driver or a punter.
You can check out the current stage of development at Richard’s website, Taxibeeper
. I very rarely take a taxi anywhere, and I’ve still only got a Thickphone, but I’m confident that Richard’s system will really take off. Why not have a look at it?