Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Improve Service? Centralized Dispatch?

Before entering this debate, I think it would be helpful to imagine an ideal business model. And, this model should be looked at strictly from the standpoint of picking up cab customers in the most efficient way possible. It should have:

1. One dispatching system. As to whether this would be one big company like Pre-K Yellow Cab or a centralized dispatch is not important. What's essential is that all the taxis in the city would be connected to it.
     A. You ask why? Primarily because it would minimize the major curse of all radio/computer dispatch players - the NO-GO. No mas customers calling 7 cab companies simultaneously.
     B. No mas 4 taxis showing up for an order while passing 3 potential calls en route.
     C. This would work for the customers as well because they wouldn't be calling for, say, a distant Yellow when there was a Luxor a block away.

2. I think the system should be computerized with a modern app like Cabulous and the cabs should all be GPS enabled.
     A. I have a vision of a computer or a dispatcher automatically assigning each order to the nearest taxi. No muss mo fuss.

3. All drivers should have to pick up whatever order they are assigned unless they have very, very good reasons.
     A. I'm not interested in the employee vs Independent Contractor debate here. This is an "Ideal" system.
     B. The drivers, for instance, could agree to pick up all dispatched orders as part of their contracts. As to whether or not this would play with the EDD is something I can't answer.
     C. In any case, certain orders would not be picked up (for one reason or another) unless such a rule was in place.

Of course the system would be overwhelmed from time to time like during conventions or rush hour Friday nights but, on the whole, I think it would give the City very good coverage with the number of taxis we have now. It might also allow a cab to do things like piggy-back pick-ups when it's the only taxi in an area like the deep Sunset. And, customers could be given a more accurate estimation of how long it would take for them to get a cab; thus easing their anxiety, hostility and their desperate desire to ride in expensive limos.

Coming Soon - Reality.


    1. If we could have a guaranteed $15 minimum on a credit card and charge meter and a half like Uber, we'd have no trouble servicing radio calls. It'd stop people from calling more than one company too.

    2. "I'm not interested in the employee vs Independent Contractor debate here. This is an "Ideal" system."

      Right. But it's the practical implementation of the system that can't be brought about. Who's going to pay for it, for instance?

      "All drivers should have to pick up whatever order they are assigned unless they have very, very good reasons." This necessitates some kind of administrative/enforcement apparatus.

      The concept of one central dispatch makes sense. So does the idea of phone apps reaching the cab directly without going through a dispatch center. Maybe some dispatch service will operationalize this, and the need for central dispatch will be eliminated.

    3. What an ideal! Screw the companies and drivers that built their radio businesses from scratch. Let’s make ‘em share with EVERYBODY. It’s only fair, right?

      Confiscating business “for the good of all” could be called “Fair.” It’s been done before. However it’s touted, the result is Big Brother.

      The public gets whatever cab Big Brother Dispatch decides to send.

      Drivers take the orders Big Brother says they must.

      Will there be gate control on Big Brother? Well, of course not! Control fairness? How could you!

      Onward, Comrades, bravely into the Past!

    4. Mr, Phantom, sir: now we're talking the same language. It would be the most effective/efficient system for all. Another neat feature that could be integrated into the "future citywide Cabulous": automatic future orders. Say a customer in the Sunset needs a cab in 45minutes. He/she inputs that into Cabulous, and on my screen a little circle with a "45" pops up. Maybe I'm heading to Sunset with a fare. I would respond to the request, the customer would see that he's covered, peace of mind. I drop off 15 minutes before I'm due - so I go for a walk or have a snack, and go get them.

      As far as companies building business - Cabulous customers could have "preferred companies" like they have "favorite drivers". That way the companies would still have an incentive to provide better service. In fact, we shouldn't mandate citywide phone dispatch, that can remain independent. Instead let's gently but firmly encourage the use of Cabulous, and get on the developer's case to improve the damn buggy thing.

      A controversial idea: allowing users to rate cabbies. I'm not sure how that would fly. I think I would get a lot of 5s and a lot of 1s and not much in the middle.

      Seva Loginov, Checker 271
      Check out my page on using smartphones for cabbing: