A TAXI app has been launched in Scotland that will allow users to hail black cabs through their smartphones.
GetTaxi, which is already available in 30 cities worldwide including London, New York and Moscow, has set its sights on the Scottish market and the capital.
The downloadable app connects customers and taxi drivers using GPS, which allows a black cab to be hailed from anywhere in Edinburgh.
London taxi drivers and users have taken up the app over the past three years.
Chief executive Remo Gerber said its success rested on offering users access to “trusted black cab drivers”.
The app is also pay-as-you-go for cab drivers in contrast to standard fees which are currently paid to radio firms, while tech-savvy customers can also book a cab by simply speaking into their smartwatch.
Mr Gerber said: “Black cab drivers are the best drivers and the most trusted, they are all vetted and their cabs are wheelchair accessible. This technology helps to free the entire market up to them. Where at present you can only flag a black cab in the street by using this app you can hail one from anywhere.
“We are currently expanding throughout the UK and Edinburgh will be our first city in Scotland. We are also expanding into Manchester and Liverpool taking the total number of cities worldwide to 30 including New York, Moscow, London, St Petersburg and all across Israel.”
He added: “We’re working closely with regulators, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and drivers to provide the safest and most reliable means to get around.
“We are very confident of success in Edinburgh and Scotland because the black cab market is very strong and well trusted by the public. Glasgow is also very much on our radar.”
Over the past three years in London GetTaxi has been involved in a battle with rival mobile app Uber which allows users to hail private-hire vehicles.
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Last Christmas GetTaxi launched a price war charging passengers only £5 for many journeys booked on the new app – cab drivers were not left out of pocket thanks to a subsidy from the company.
Black cab drivers have objected to Uber being given a private-hire licence, claiming it infringes their right to be the sole users of taxi meters in London. The High Court is soon set to issue a ruling on the matter.
UKTI chief executive Dominic Jermey said: “Building on its successful foothold in the London market, I’m delighted that GetTaxi is rolling its operation out nationally. This is yet another example of the UK attracting the best, most innovative businesses from around the world.
“GetTaxi is a leading example of a technology company working closely with UK regulators to enhance the taxi service for the public.”
GetTaxi also provides 24/7 UK customer care, future bookings up to two weeks in advance, confirmation of the driver’s name, photo and vehicle registration to users, cashless payment via credit card, as well as business accounts, with more than 2,000 UK businesses.
The first GetTaxi driver in Edinburgh will be David Sutherland, 59, who has driven a cab in the city for more than seven years. He said: “I was approached by a member of the GetTaxi team at a city rank and straight away I could see the benefits. You don’t need to pay a set fee like you do with the radio firms and it opens the entire market up to the driver as you can be hailed from anywhere.
“It’s safer for the passenger too as they receive a trusted black cab plus a photo and the vehicle reg plate. I think it will be a massive success in Edinburgh. All the drivers are talking about it.”
The app is free to download and use, with no charges above those on the taxi’s meter. Users will be able to pay by cash, credit card or by opening a personal account and will also accumulate “Taxi Miles” reward points, which will be redeemable against gifts and free rides.