London has a pretty crowded taxi-booking space, so with each new entrant comes a slightly different twist on how it promises to get you from A to B.
Maaxi is the latest to launch (following a trial period at the end of 2014) and pledges to be the only one to allow you to book individual seats in one of London’s black cabs, and thereby cut down on your costs. Think of it more like reserving a seat on a train or plane than hailing a car.
The company says it aims to bring the cost of door-to-door transportation within the realms of public transport, which would equate to just a few pounds for most one-way journeys, so it’ll need to be pretty cheap relative to the standard cost of a black cab if it’s to succeed.
Available for Android and iOS devices, Maaxi uses its own bespoke mapping service to match potential fares and destinations. The app also has a ‘departures board’ screen to show passengers which taxis and routes are available, and the price of the journey.
Interestingly, Maaxi said its services will run “in the vicinity of and along existing public transport routes, catering to groups of people who share present bus, tube or train journeys,” which isn’t an approach the capital has seen from other entrants to the market so far.
Of course, both passengers and drivers will retain the ability to only offer ‘exclusive’ rides – ones where you want a whole cab to yourself.
What the service will live or die on, however, is getting enough participating taxis to fulfill any early inquisitive demand from users – a spokesperson said there are around 2,000 at launch today. No one will continually try to use a taxi-booking app that fails to get them a ride, and drivers won’t want to sign up to a service that can’t provide a steady flow of passengers – particularly not one with the public transport-like approach such as Maaxi, which requires them to be primarily full in order to maximize takings.
One thing that immediately springs to mind was the concern around safety. While you might be happy enough to wait at a bus stop with the same faces every day, do you really want complete strangers hopping in and out of your cab? The company thinks this won’t be a problem, or at least, reassures that you retain control of your type of journey.
“With Maaxi, users are able to travel with friends, solo, or book seats in female-only or male-only taxis should they prefer. Maaxi does not accept payment from users without a UK address and bank payment method and address, which when added to Maaxi’s GPS tracking, makes the sharing with strangers safe and trackable,” the company said.
As an idea, it’s a novel one that I’ve not yet seen employed in the city – and with the disparity between black cab pricing and Uber pricing, it could be a viable way of enticing users out of the Prius’ and back into the city’s iconic black cabs.