More than four years after Uber arrived in New York City and started siphoning riders from traditional cabs, the city’s taxis finally have an app that might allow them to fight back.
The app called Arro, which is being beta tested in 7,000 taxis now and will launch more widely in coming weeks, allows users to hail and pay for yellow and green taxi rides in New York City, mimicking the service provided by UberT. Arro is different from Uber in that its users can hail cabs via messages that are sent directly to drivers through their data terminals. Uber drivers, meanwhile, accept e-hails through their smartphones. Arro has brokered a partnership with Creative Mobile Technologies, which operates the payment technology in about 50% of city’s 13,000-plus yellow taxis.
Another big difference: no surge pricing. Uber fares increase during times of high demand. With Arro, passengers will always pay the price of the taxi meter.
According to Crain’s New York, this is how the app works:
When a user taps the app, a nearby cab driver is sent the passenger’s name, the pickup address and cross streets. The rider is sent the driver’s name and ID number so she can identify the car. Users save their credit card information in the app, allowing them to pay the metered fare—plus tip—automatically.
There have been past attempts to app-ify New York’s famed yellow taxis. London-based app Hailo exited New York City—and all of North America, in fact—in October after falling victim to the price war between Uber and Lyft. Arro says it will fair better because of its partnership with CMT.
The taxi industry in New York is in desperate to erase some of Uber’s inroads. The value of individual medallions has dropped to about $700,000 from its peak of $1.3 million in 2013, according to Crain’s. The city decided to not auction off a new batch of medallions this year, as it waits to see the market stabilizes.