New apps allow Montrealers to virtually hail a cab

The app-based taxi services are already used in Toronto and in several cities around the world. It allows cab-seekers to virtually hail a cab and pay for it via their smartphones.

Hailo and Uber, two app-based taxi companies, help drivers pick up more fares

Taxi companies in Montreal and Toronto say the Uber app is unfairly taking away their business. (Graham Hughes/CP)

The days of hailing a cab by standing on a street corner may be over with the arrival in Montreal of two new mobile apps.

Although they have yet to officially launch in Montreal, the apps are making some taxi companies very unhappy because of competition. Despite the opposition, though, Hailo Cab and Uber may be here to stay.

The app-based taxi services are already used in Toronto and in several cities around the world. It allows cab-seekers to virtually hail a cab and pay for it via their smartphones.

Montreal Canadiens hockey player Alex Galchenyuk recently tweeted that he used Uber in Montreal:

Hailo Montreal’s general manager, Jeff Desruisseaux, says ordering a cab is simple.

“All they have to do is download the application, and at any moment when they’re looking for a cab, all they have to do is tap twice to get access to the nearest cab,” he explains.

“Once the nearest cab has accepted the hail, you get an ETA, which communicates roughly the amount of time to get to the passenger.”

Desruisseaux says the service is beneficial to Montreal cab drivers because, as independent contractors, they never have a guarantee about the amount of work they’re going to get.

Now, drivers who sign up with Hailo have the option of picking up more fares in addition to the ones they get through conventional dispatch, or brokerages.

“We’re giving them the opportunity to supplement their revenue using Hailo,” Desruisseaux says.

The company deals directly with drivers for the most part — the service recruits current taxi drivers. Desruisseaux says that in some cities where Hailo is currently used, some drivers are supplementing their incomes by 20 to 30 per cent.

But in Toronto, the use of Hailo and Uber has caused some trouble for drivers. The Toronto Star reported this week that a driver lost his job after signing up for the service. And both Hailo and Uber have run into questions of legality.

Dory Saliba, the president of an association that represents cab owners in Montreal, says the apps will hurt the quality of services cab companies currently offer.

He says most cabs are equipped with GPS by now, and that companies are now developing their own apps.

Desruisseaux says Hailo is taking all the necessary steps in Montreal to make sure everything is above board, before clients get on board.

“Currently, in Montreal, we’ve undertaken all the necessary steps to make sure the service complies with the regulations,” he says.


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