For most us (it goes double if you live or have lived in a city) contracting cholera or losing a few fingers is less painful than hailing a cab during rush hour.  And that ordeal is only the beginning of what is usually 15 or so minutes of awkward conversation where the cabbie tries to start small talk about the latest viral video. For us Villanovans this struggle is also observed on a weekly basis. It usually goes something like this:

“Hello this is Main Line Taxi how can I help you?”

“Yes I’d like a cab to Maloney’s, I live at __________”

“All our cabs are out right now, they usually circle by there”

“..Thanks?”

Now while the awkward small talk will persist, the uncertainty of a cab arriving is definitely benefiting from recent innovation. Many smartphone apps are changing the entire dynamic of how people call cabs in urban areas.  Uber, GetTaxi, Hailo among others are popping up all over the world as efficient ways to call a ride. You simply give your location (or sometimes just the intersection) and a town car or other vehicle of your choice will be there faster than you can imagine. Uber, a San Francisco start up, has definitely faced an uphill battle against regulators and taxi companies for obvious reasons. Unlike other specialized transport apps which work in unison with cab companies Uber is in direct competition with them in many markets. This has led to legal battles in California, Washington DC, Miami and many other cities.

Just how well do apps like Uber work? Very well in fact. Pop the Bubble’s very own Noelle Mapes actually used Uber in Chicago and was very pleased with the speed at which a cab arrived at her location. There you have it, Uber is PTB tested and approved.

What’s next for the e-cab marketplace? With mapping technology and crowdsourcing of traffic data not slowing down anytime soon you can expect that competition with conventional taxi services is only going to increase. With it will bring the swift hand and red tape of regulators just itching to limit the reach of the app.

Would you use Uber as oppose to manually flagging down a ride? Do taxi services have a legitimate argument or are they just failing to keep up with the times? How can these apps be improved?

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