Flywheel, the app for hailing taxis, has a pilot program in place with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to implement its new platform, TaxiOS, into 70 cabs. TaxiOS, which is an Android app that runs on a Flywheel-provided Moto E device, aims to be a single operating system for taxis. TaxiOS features GPS-based rates, dispatches from phones and mobile apps, as well as mobile-based payments.
Flywheel says over 80 percent of the taxis in San Francisco work with Flywheel for mobile ride hailing. Part of that is likely because the SFMTA has a mandate for all taxis to work with some type of mobile booking solution.
"When we started reimagining the technology in taxis with TaxiOS, we brought the SFMTA into the process early and explained what we wanted to do and listened to their feedback," Flywheel CEO Rakesh Mathur told TechCrunch. "For example, they wanted a way to accept SF Paratransit (a discounted taxi program for people with special needs) payments we built it into our system."
Flywheel's TaxiOS will also be available for free to non-Flywheel Taxi drivers, and the company says it has interest from several other taxi companies looking to update the technology used in their fleets. All of Flywheel's TaxiOS revenues will come from completed rides, meaning that Flywheel will make money from riders using the app to hail a ride and through processing mobile and credit card payments. Flywheel sees TaxiOS as being key to scaling in additional markets.
"Unlike rideshares, Flywheel doesn't need to devote capital to recruiting drivers or owning inventory," Mathur said. "With TaxiOS, cabs running this new technology can be up and running in just minutes — rather than hours to a full day that it's traditionally taken for cabs to deploy. Ride share companies have shown how critical a smartphone in every car is to scale transportation technology. But as opposed to Uber, which is only for people who have smartphones and credit cards, taxis running TaxiOS can pick up rides hailed through an app, on the street or voice dispatch; and accepts either cash, credit card/mobile app payment. Its target market is far bigger."
Flywheel, which has raised over $34 million, currently operates in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Sacramento and San Diego. Although Flywheel isn't officially live in New York, it has received its credentials to operate e-hailing services and has done over a million test rides in the market.