New York City cabs have begun testing a new app-based taxi system in an attempt to win back customers lost to Uber and Lyft.
The new hailing app, named Arro, is currently in beta testing in around 7,000 of the city’s taxis. The system operates in a similar fashion to Uber but claims it will soon outplace the global giant, stripping surge pricing in favour of meter fares and teaming up with Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT) which already manages video displays and payment systems in around 10,000 NYC cabs.
When a user launches the Arro app to hail a taxi, a nearby driver will see their name and location plotted on a TV screen before sending the user their name and medallion license number. Just like Uber, the user’s payment details are pre-recorded on the app so that the fare and any tips can be paid digitally.
The startup hopes to roll out the Arro app in all CMT-enabled cabs over the next two weeks.
In addition to the partnership with Long Island City-based CMT, Arro is looking to team up with VeriFone Systems which operates the payment systems and TV screens in the rest of NYC’s 20,000 green and yellow cabs. Although the company have decided to keep Arro in New York for now, expansion plans include moving to Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington DC in the near future.
However, this is not the first time a startup has promised to fend off competition from ride-sharing apps. Hailo launched in NYC in 2013 pledging to save the yellow cab industry in the city, and the rest of the U.S. But last autumn the app was forced to abandon its North American business, citing the “astronomical marketing” required to chase Uber.
Arro has a big challenge ahead if it is to compete with Uber’s 14,088 registered vehicles in Manhattan, as recorded by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.