By Briar Hopley
The launch this week of a new app to order taxis in Toronto is getting a lot of attention, but at the same time there are also safety concerns about unlicensed app based taxi companies.
The new app, Hailo, is the first licensed taxi service in Toronto that can be hailed through an app on a smartphone but concerns are now being raised about unlicensed taxi services.
On Wednesday Hailo opened up its services to North America, starting with Toronto. Hailo first launched in the UK in 2011 and 400,000 people downloaded the app in its first year.
The free app that can be can downloaded on any Apple or Android phones. It allows users to order a cab through their phone. Upon arrival the fare is charged to a credit card linked to a user account.
The cost of the fare is city approved.
Hailo President Justin Raymond said the goal was to make “sure we bring our innovative technology and our solution to the market inside of the rules that exist. The city of Toronto was extremely open to it.”
While Hailo is licensed, some people have raised safety concerns about unlicensed app-based taxi companies.
Bruce Robertson, director of licensing services for the city of Toronto, said that if a company is not licensed the city is unable to access information to make sure the drivers are licensed and insured.
Also, if a company is not licensed, the city is also unable to do background checks on the drivers or inspect the vehicles the company uses to make sure they are up to par, he said.
Alfred LaGasse, CEO of the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association which is based in the United States, also warns consumers about what he calls “rogue” app-based taxi services.
“To download the app, you have to accept the terms and conditions,” said LaGasse. “One of the terms and conditions is you wave your legal rights. Should anything go wrong, should they cause an accident and you get injured or you’re somehow harmed using their system you have no legal recourse.”