By: Mark Glennon*
Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week proposed a splendid idea for modernizing Chicago’s taxi hailing system and putting it on a level playing field with Uber and similar new services. His idea is to put out for bid the creation of a new dispatch system or app that would connect to all taxi fleets serving the city.
It’s such a splendid idea that it’s already built. A company named TripThru has been refining it over the last twelve months and is in the process of launching.
[Full disclosure: I have been doing some work with TripThru since it was founded and have a financial interest in it. So, forgive me for mixing news with self-interest, but this really is both.]
In fact, TripThru’s solution offers plenty of benefits beyond what Mayor Emanuel envisions:
• It’s a neutral hub that’s built to interconnect taxi and limo app and dispatch systems all around the world, not just in Chicago. As systems integrate with it, the app you carry will become universally functional.
• No new app needs to be built. Taxi companies have their own apps and there are plenty of good hailing apps out there from third parties such as Hailo, which is fairly popular in Chicago. The city does not need to go into competition with them. Let customers use the app they want. TripThru does not compete with them or any fleet. It’s just a B2B platform that runs in the background to make their apps more functional.
• No new dispatch system needs to be built. Most taxi and limo companies use dispatch software made by third parties like Mobile Knowledge and DDS. As with the app, there’s no need to build new dispatch software and compete with those companies.
• Because TripThru has an open API, the integration process between TripThru and any app or fleet is fairly simple.
• It leaves each taxi company, limo company and app provider in full control over selecting which other fleets to connect to, so they can make their own decisions about the quality and reputation of who they farm out rides to.
• It solves the problem of occasional excess demand. In bad weather or during other periods of high demand, taxi and limo companies sometimes cannot meet demand. If they are connected to TripThru, they can farm out rides when they have to.
• It doesn’t step on anybody’s toes. Because it is strictly B2B with no consumer interface, TripThru doesn’t compete for the relationship with customers.
The city needn’t be involved at all if it doesn’t want to be, and it certainly needn’t spend any money on this.
*Mark Glennon is Managing Director at Ninth Street Advisors in Chicago and founder of WirePoints