If you have ever been out on a night and need to get home in a taxi you may remember the hardships of getting a taxi. The phone call, the where I am part, and then the waiting around for a taxi that is not guaranteed to come. How many times has getting a taxi turned into a tinder date where you get stood up without a text or a phone call. In this series of ‘The Last Stand’, we look into companies that are failing in today's technologically savvy world because of clear lack of innovation.
Yes, the Taxi industry is sweating, they are on the way out and they know it. Scrambling to hold onto the monopoly that they have created over the years, clutching at last straws, these efforts are too little too late. The people who are being hurt however are the drivers who spend thousands on licenses and cars are.
In 2014 WA had 2572 taxi drivers, and the cost of each license was $291,300, basically a house mortgage to drive a taxi. Perth taxis are slated to be 89% on time or with-in target frame a good percentage on paper, however, this is an off-peak time, and in peak, the number drops to 86% and here is the fun part of this stat, that’s pre-booked taxis. ASAP taxi service is in the 95% to 90% but if you view any forum on Whirlpool or Facebook you will see a completely different story, from folks who want a taxi during the most popular times, that’s when the failure rate is high, which should not be the case. Not all is bad since 2008 the taxi service has moved from an average 85% rate of on-time pick up to a modest 92% a very fair increase that should be commended. There is also a very strange statistic where only 45% of the time taxis arrive within 20 mins of the placed call for wheelchair-bound citizens.
Okay so taxis arrive in modest time frames, and it’s not the biggest fault of theirs, there is traffic and there is the distance to cover in Perth for example. However, a huge part of the industry that has been in the spotlight is security and the graph below shows 2012-2013 was a crazy violent year.
This was for the drivers, they have been in danger. There is also the other side of this coin, where complaints and have been lodged against the taxi industry, in 2011 there was 35 in 2013 there was 171, a sharp rise.
You may be thinking what has all this got to do with technology, well for example on-time arrival is really dependant on which driver is the closest and if they find your address or where you are standing quickly enough, with the Uber service you have a GPS location on both yourself and the driver, meaning you know exactly where he or she is on the map, and they know exactly where you are, in fact, they even describe the car to you so you know who’s who.
Having an app that lets you know how many drivers are around you, and where exactly they are and being able to pay with PayPal, where no cash is exchange is not only safe for the passenger but also the driver. The ride itself is also recorded, and you can dispute any issues if the driver takes you on the scenic route. The app's simplicity and cleanliness are what has really made it popular but at the end of the day there is one thing that is even more important for the passenger and that’s the price. Uber is 20%-40% cheaper at most times with an estimate on how much you will pay before you even get the ride.
The next big-ticket item is security something that has been tooted about in the media for a while, and while we can talk about the rigorous background checks and how the taxi industry screens and trains their drivers, on both sides someone will be a bad apple. However, with Uber, there are a few security measures that really stand out, the details of the passenger are known to the Uber service, they are signed up with the app, the driver is also known and when both are sharing the ride if anything happens everyone knows who was involved. Best of all each driver has a rating and if they don’t uphold it they will be barred from being an Uber driver. With the taxis when is the last time a complaint was answered?
The taxi industry has taken to playing catch up, a game that is an uphill battle and without some forward thinking will be lost. There is still hope for the taxi industry, however, the feeling in the air is that in 5 years we won’t recognise it, and in 10 it will be fully gone.