In what could be a new show called Taxi Wars, HAILO (hereby known as Hailo) officially launches in its third city today, Toronto. Already up and running in London (England) and Dublin, Hailo is taking a different route, so to speak, than Uber, by certifying itself as a licensed cab company.
Hailo allows you to use your smartphone, either on Android or iOS, to hail a nearby cab, wherever you happen to be in the city. Taxi drivers can choose to use the service as a second or third means of filling their back seats; they do this by having the Hailo app open on their smartphones, ready to accept riders from around the city. The payment model provides riders — and drivers — protection from declined credit cards and payment issues, as the company takes a 15% commission from drivers’ total fares in order to cover insurance and credit card processing.
This is all transparent to the riders, who are essentially taking a metred cab fare. Except that, using the app, they can track where the taxi is, how long it will take to get to their destination. Riders will receive a push notification when the cab has arrived, and payment is taken care of beforehand using a pre-entered credit card. Gratuity can be chosen prior to the ride — Hailo encourages 15%, 20% or 25%, but can abide any number — making small change a thing of the past.
There is already competition in Toronto: Uber launched earlier this year and while they don’t use the same payment system — a 20% surcharge is added to each fare, which includes a gratuity — they are not a registered cab company. Instead, Uber partners with licensed cab and limousine companies, acting as a liaison between rider and driver, taking a small fee for processing and coordination. Hailo, on the other hand, faces no legal ambiguity, and works directly with cab drivers.
Right now there are around 450 Hailo-licensed drivers in the city, and that number is expected to reach over 2000 in the coming months. Regardless of that number, I have yet to experience a wait of more than 5 minutes for a cab, which is a great feat in a city where cabs often prefer to ignore than accept a fare.
Hail0 is running a promotion where you can get $5 off your first fare by using the promo code TORONTO from within the app.