The co-founder of taxi mobile application goCatch has hit back at criticism by the NSW Taxi Council that its iPhone application puts passengers at risk.
The goCatch application facilitates taxi journeys by using a phone's GPS to connect passengers with drivers in the area, but it has come under fire from the NSW Taxi Council for safety concerns.
In the Sunday Telegraph, NSW Taxi Council CEO Peter Ramshaw said that regulation requires authorised dispatch networks to provide drivers who have passed checks for criminal history and have valid drivers' licences, and are operating well maintained and registered taxis.
He said that the application, however, could allow unauthorised drivers to take bookings.
"If unauthorised networks are dispatching taxis, passengers cannot guarantee that the driver has been authorised by NSW Transport," he told the Sunday Telegraph.
However, in a statement, goCatch co-founder Andrew Campbell dismissed the comments as irrational and alarmist, and said that the entrenched players in the industry were threatened by new technology.
He said that the app reduces the possibility of anonymity as it tracks the pick-up and drop-off points in a journey, and also captures the phone number of both the driver and passenger.
"[With the existing booking networks] there might be no record of the journey taking place," Campbell said. "With goCatch, both the driver and passenger have been identified by their phones, and there is a record of location-based data."
The app is supported by a grant from the NSW Trade and Investment's Collaborative Solutions Program.
The NSW Taxi Council wrote to the NSW Government and asked the Minister for Transport to review how the regulation applies to these types of booking services.
It pointed to New York, where unregulated services are illegal.
Campbell told the government that using goCatch is comparable to hailing a cab off the street.
"We're willing to work with the government and any authority or regulatory body, to improve the safety in the taxi industry," he said. "We believe our technology has the ability to make hailing a taxi on the street safer."
He said goCatch hasn't been approached by the Taxi Council to discuss the safety concerns.