Some of you may have noticed that there’s now an App for Beck Taxis. All kinds of Taxi Apps have been popping up recently, from “Taxi Magic” to “Hailo,” and of course “Uber.” These apps vary in the cities that they cover, with many of them covering primarily US cities. But if they haven’t already, developers are starting to reach out to Canada and are beginning to include major cities like Vancouver and Toronto

We don’t often hear about some of the controversy surrounding these apps. In various jurisdictions in the US, (ranging Chicago to Minnesota to Washington DC, and even New York City) there have been questions raised regarding the legality of their use. Sometimes the pressure comes from the governing bodies to point out that the apps aren’t government regulated. Other times the pressure comes from the Taxi Commissions themselves.

The arguments for the use of Taxi Apps are fairly obvious. Users get the convenience of calling a taxi at their fingertips. Using the built in GPS in your smartphone, a driver knows exactly where to pick you up. Many of these apps are tied to a credit card account so you don’t need to worry about having cash on you, or even the card itself. Billing is all handled automatically. Since there are a growing number of apps, there isn’t the same competition to hail a cab like there would be when you’re calling or standing by the curb. And the apps work outside of peak hours, when standing by the curb could turn into a half hour or more experience

The arguments against the Apps are slightly less apparent. They include things like: cabs can be more expensive through an app than they are just by calling a company. Gratuity is automatically included in the fare, whether the user wants to include it or not. Some jurisdictions have claimed that the apps support illegal taxi operation. Individuals, including drivers, are also taking issue with a clause that many of the apps offer which prevent drivers from picking up another fare once they have agreed to pick up an App user

Whether you use them or not, these apps are likely here to stay. We’re just in the “Wild West” phase of figuring out the best practices for use and regulations surrounding them.

Below is an interesting article from the Huffington Post about Uber and Taxi Service in the city that never sleeps with their “oh so famous” Yellow Cabs. I recommend checking it out because, why not? What’s the downside in knowing more?

- Andrew