Open Taxi Access (OTA) and Cabulous (now Flywheel) ever since John Wolpert of Upstart Mobile introduced us to the concept and the app two and a half years ago.
To recap and clarify: OTA promised to be a universal app that would put all San Francisco taxis on a smart phone map. In that way, customers would be able to see all the available cabs instead of just those belonging to one company or another. The benefits to drivers would also be immense. They would no longer drive near orders without knowing it. They would not race to an address only to see their customers riding away in a different colored taxi.
I have yet to meet either a cab rider or a driver who was not excited by this idea. OTA was even passed by TAC two years ago only to be shelved when John Lazar of Luxor Cab reputedly told Nat Ford, then Director of the MTA, to kill it.
Director Chris Hayashi recently resurrected the idea under the name of Electronic Taxi Access (ETA). The bid to create the architecture was awarded to Frias Transportation Infranstructure (FTI) who sent Chief Information Officer James Wisniewski up from Las Vegas to implement the platform. Then, about two weeks ago I ran into Hayashi and Wisniewski and was told that the plan was changing. Instead of having several apps connecting via the FTI platform, a company would need at least one thousand customers would be allowed to operate in San Francisco, leaving only Flywheel and Taxi Magic in the mix.
With this in mind Director Hayashi decided to devote a portion of the last Town Hall meeting to ETA and Flywheel and recruited Jason Dewillers (photo) from Flywheel for the task.
Tomorrow: ETA and Flywheel.