Taxi! How mobile apps are revolutionising the taxi industry

The taxi industry is finally getting a kick up the behind with innovative technologies solving long-term problems for consumers and taxi drivers.

The taxi industry is undergoing a major overhaul, driven by the development of new technology. With the arrival of the sharing economy, and platforms like Uber creating a place for themselves through innovative new platforms, the industry has been forced to adapt in order to survive. While this change is generally good news for consumers, it will invariably hurt the taxi drivers who really do work hard and often cop slack for the actions of a minority who get attention in news stories.

The service equation

Traditionally, taxi ‘service’ requirements for both the driver and the rider were fairly straightforward:

Customers Taxi Drivers
Is the taxi going to arrive if I book it? Is the customer going to be there waiting when I arrive?
How far away is the taxi? Will the customer pay or 'do a runner'?
Smooth and fast payment Fast payment to avoid creating traffic

Taxi mobile apps have changed the game

With the arrival of mobile applications and a more technology driven service ecosystem, the requirements for both customer and driver have changed:

Customers App Solution Taxi Drivers App Solution
Is the taxi going to arrive if I book it? When you book with an app you have the opportunity to call the Taxi driver Is the customer going to be there waiting when I arrive? The taxi driver has the opportunity to call the customer directly.
How far away is the taxi? In the app you can see exactly how far away your assigned taxi driver is on a Map, along with an ETA in minutes Will the customer pay or 'do a runner'? Until now taxi drivers had no visibility to customer details. App companies have your e-mail address, name, credit card and address details for dispute resolution on behalf of a taxi driver. Currently the taxi networks are too busy and can only refer the case to the police, which we don't have resources to be able to service.Not to mention the fact that automatic billing can happen via the app and if PayPal is used you are covered by Paypal's dispute resolution process also.
Smooth and fast payment By pre-loading your credit card in to the app, you can save a huge amount of time when it comes to payment. The taxi driver just needs to press 'delivered' and your account is charged. No swipe, sign, pin, or waiting for a mobile EFTPOS terminal to get reception! Fast payment to avoid creating traffic Taxi drivers no longer have to pull over in no-stopping zones for 3-4 minutes to do a transaction. They can bill you whilst the cab is pulling up to your location and you can quickly exit the vehicle, dramatically reducing the amount of traffic caused by cabs on our roads.

Comparison of transport mobile apps

App Features
  • Easy tracking of your vehicle's location
  • Fixed fares and easy payment
  • Range of car types for different budgets
  • Easier to track travel expenses (no receipts to lose!)
  • Referral bonuses when new passengers sign up
  • Fare estimator
  • Store favourite addresses
  • Take and store a picture of your cab from within the app
  • Whistle - if you can't do it yourself, this app will
  • Find taxi ranks near you
Taxi Pro
  • Booking history
  • Choose Premier or Prestige cabs
  • Book for later - schedule a cab a fortnight in advance
  • Booking history & stored favourites
  • Check status of outstanding bookings
  • Find taxi ranks near you
  • Book to/from points of interest + your phone's address book/contacts
  • Secure pin for goCatch app
  • Pay your fare with an attached credit card / paypal account
  • Pay with PayPal - receive emailed receipt
  • Book for later - schedule a cab in advance
  • Specify a tip for the cab driver
  • Booking history & stored favourites
  • 15 minutes before being picked up, you can see your taxi on the map and call the driver
  • Save 50% on payment surcharge if booked + paid through the app
  • Great tutorial for the app covering basic use, how to book and how to pay (+ usage videos)
  • Alert all nearby goCatch drivers to pick you up
silver service cabcharge
  • Crime Stopper Approved
  • Booking history & stored favourites
  • Find Taxi Ranks near you
  • Pick what kind of Taxi you want (regular, wagon, maxi, wheelchair or silver service)
  • Book later - schedule a cab a fortnight in advance
  • Add notes for the driver (wait out back/front, ring the bell, go to reception, don't use the horn, etc.)
  • Silver Service bookings will have the driver ring you on approach
  • Store addresses in the app's address book
  • Get a free SMS on approach
  • Rate your past trips once they've been completed from the app
  • Booking history & stored addresses
  • Fare calculator
  • Store your favourite drivers (by trip or ID) and request them preferentially in your bookings
  • Book a wheelchair, van, 5 star taxi
  • Specify if you'll be paying by credit/debit card
  • Record how much you spend on a taxi within the app
  • Data on each Taxi company (phone number, area serviced)
  • See how much each network charges
  • Can't actually book from within the app

The traditional taxi eco-system

Here's a bullet point run-down on how taxi businesses ran before the arrival of mobile apps. Traditionally, there were 3 key stakeholders in the industry:

  • Taxi Networks (eg: Taxis Combined)
  • Taxi Operators (these companies own many cabs, sometimes 100+)
  • Taxi Drivers

Taxi Networks have brands like Taxis Combined or Silver Service, and are well known. Consumers call them up directly and visit their websites and they distribute their "leads" over their radio network to cabbies who then indicate they are interested in the job. They charge a fee to Taxi Operators to have access to their "leads".

Taxi Operators own several cabs (I’ve heard some operators own over 100 cabs) and they then sub-lease these cars to Taxi drivers. Two drivers sub-lease one car, one for the day shift and one for the night. Each shift has an approximate lease fee of $120 and with that they have access to the radio calls for customers wanting to be picked up.

Taxi Drivers pay their lease and look after their own fuel. If there are no jobs, they drive around the city and suburbs hoping to be flagged down by a customer.

The taxi networks and operators are NOT happy

They have responded not by trying to compete, but instead with a campaign against taxi apps. I think that it’s a process of evolution that is going on here. If the taxi networks and operators are not able to evolve their businesses to come up to speed with what consumers want, then it’s only fair that taxi apps are given right of way to take the industry forward through their innovative approach to solving consumer problems.

The future for the taxi industry and more innovation

I think there is more to come and can see many of the players getting involved in areas such as aggregation of taxi driver reviews where they can provide taxis with ratings work for their performance, therefore increasing customer service levels and incentivising performance for taxi drivers.

Extending on this ratings system it would be an excellent feature to be able to request specific drivers through the app.

taxis in australia

What is your view? Do you think taxi apps should be supported by taxi networks and operators?

Jeremy Cabral

Jeremy is a publisher for, he is also a personal finance all-rounder specialising in: Credit Cards, Savings Accounts, Personal Loans, Home Loans & Online Shopping.

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3 Responses

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    InasMarch 10, 2015

    Why does the 13 Cabs app want my email password when I create an account?

    • finder Customer Care
      ShirleyMarch 10, 2015Staff

      Hi Inas,

      Thanks for your question.

      Please note that 13 Cabs is not requesting the password to your email inbox, but the password you want to create to log into your 13 Cabs account.

      Your username for your 13 Cabs accounts is your email address but you can set your own password.


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      March 10, 2015

      Thanks Shirley, I’ll try again. When I made my password it told me that it was incorrect – so I assumed it wanted my gmail password.

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