Anyone who's been frustrated by a busy signal trying to get through to a cab company may be glad that a Halifax cab company is now taking online or smartphone ride requests.
Casino Taxi’s mobile app and web service was launched this past spring and since then about 7,000 rides have been booked directly.
The free app is available for Android users on the Google Play store and for Apple customers on the App Store.
Brian Herman, president of Casino Taxi, said the new system reduces the potential for error and allows customers to bypass long wait times on the phone.
"Essentially what happens is a customer picks up their smartphone, types in their own address. They become their own order taker and they simply put in their own taxi request. You know less people touching it, less potential for errors, less wait on the telephone and just gives a more seamless transition for the customers," he said.
Once the online/mobile taxi request has been sent, a taxi is assigned and the user receives a booking confirmation letting the user know the roof light number of their assigned cab.
Each taxi has a Global Positioning System that allows users to track their cab — in near real-time, with about a 45-second delay — as it moves towards the user’s location.
The user can also get a price estimate on their taxi ride by entering the pickup and drop-off locations. The user’s online/mobile reservations history is available for review for a period of 30 days.
Herman said the company is hoping to have about 10 per cent of its business come through smartphone or online booking by the end of the year.
Right now it's about three percent of its business.
Herman said the idea isn't to eliminate dispatchers or save money — it's to make getting a cab as easy and convenient as possible
Driver Mark Weston said his customers are happy to book their rides themselves.
"They don't have to worry about trying to get through the dispatch to get a call or try to get a cab, they can just do it through the app and it's a done deal," he said.On the App Store and Google Play store, user reviews are mostly positive. But some Android users criticize the app’s prompt for users to sign in each time they use the app.