Taxi hailing app Hailo has been available in Canada for just over two years. In fact, Toronto was the first North American market for the European service, which debuted in London and Dublin. However, it looks like Hailo’s days in North America are numbered.
According Hailo’s CEO Tom Barr, in an interview with London’s Financial Time, it was impossible to make a profit in Canada and the U.S because of competing services like Uber and Lyft. The company plans to close its North American operations as a result and focus on other markets, including Europe and Asia. The company has since confirmed its plans in a statement (see update below).
Hailo differs from the likes of Uber in that it was actually a certified licensed cab company. The service allowed taxi drivers to fill their taxis as soon as one was requested, instead of driving around looking for fares or waiting for dispatch to provide a pick up location. It launched in Toronto in September 2012 and in Montreal roughly one year later.
Hailo hasn’t said when it will pull out of Canada, though the announcement follows Uber’s Toronto launch of UberX, a ride-sharing program that allows regular people to act as cab drivers. UberX offers users a way to make money and passengers a reduced rate compared to the price of taking a normal taxi.
Speaking at the time of the Canadian UberX launch, Hailo president Justin Raymond said the company was eager to explore sources of transport across Canada’s largest cities but would always put rider and driver safety first.
Update: Hailo has tweeted to say that its ‘great service will continue’ in Toronto. According to TechCrunch, the company’s Toronto branch is looking at a licensing deal for ongoing operation.
“Hailo Toronto remains in operation and will continue to provide service to passengers and drivers,” head of Hailo Toronto, Justin Raymond, told us. “A licensing deal is in the works.” Raymond went on to say the Toronto team ‘definitely wants to continue’ and is committed to that but details need to be worked out with Hailo HQ.
For now, things seem uncertain. Hailo mentioned nothing about the possibility that individual cities may branch off on their own following its exit from the U.S. and Canadian markets.
Update 2: Well, the hope was nice while it lasted. CBC reports that despite Hailo Toronto’s insistence that the show will go on, both Hailo Toronto and Hailo Montreal will shut down along with the rest of the North American locations.
“Everything is closing, yes,” a Hailo spokesman is quoted as telling CBC over the phone. “[But] this is not to say we wouldn’t revisit coming back to North America once we’ve built up our base in other parts of the world.”