Hailing a taxi gets a 21st century make-over

Even easier than sticking out your arm and shouting 'taxi'...
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

Even easier than sticking out your arm and shouting 'taxi'...

The good old London black-cab is being brought into the 21st century with the launch of a location-based service which will enable potential passenegrs to hail a cab using their mobile phone. The service, called Zingo, is based around two strong selling points - safety and convenience. All taxis affiliated to the service are licensed, which should provide greater peace of mind, particularly to women in and around London Last year 214 women were sexually assaulted by unlicensed taxi drivers in the capital. However, Zingo's location-based technology means that users can hail a taxi from the relative safety of a bar, nightclub or restaurant simply by dialling a number. The service will then locate them and patch their call through to the nearest taxi - identified by global positioning satellite. If you can get a signal, then you can get a cab. The convenience of the service should eliminate the need for lengthy waits at taxi ranks, or on street corners waiting to see a taxi with its orange light on. London cabby Harry James, who has been driving taxis around the capital for 28 years, said: "For 300 years now the only way to hail a cab has been to stand out on the street or go to a rank. Considering our cabbies are probably the best in the world it's a poor show that passengers haven't been able to phone us until now. "Now with the Zingo service a passenger will speak directly to the driver and we can be there within five to seven minutes to pick them up." James added: "It's great news for single women as well, perhaps travelling home late at night on their own. If they're in a restaurant and they know they need a cab in a few minutes they can call the service, speak to a driver and because they're given a password they know they're getting in the right cab. All the Zingo drivers take credit cards as well so there's not even any need to carry around cash or get out to use a cash machine." According to research commissioned by Zingo 66 per cent of Londoners who were set on taking a black cab have eventually been forced to give up when they were unable to hail a free one. At launch the service will be on offer to customers of O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone, while talks with Orange and 3 are ongoing. Five hundred cabs have signed-up so far, with Zingo aiming to have 3,000 on board by the end of the year. The service will cost £1.60 per call, which will be added to the metered cost of the journey. For more information, see: www.ZingoTaxi.com
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