Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ETA, are You Going the Way of OTA?

Regular readers of my blog know that I've been a fan of 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.


  1. Cab industry needs a really good hand held GPS app, that includes all cabs in san francisco with a well thought out policy around credit cards etc. maybe even take a dollar out of each order to pay for administration. However it is done it should be done well. If an app isn't forth coming all cab drivers will just use Uber anyways, which is as good as their dispatch and it will be a long hard slog for cab industry. Key pillars for cab industry are
    1-Legal action against unregulated services.
    2-Good GPS APP.
    3-Enforcement against illegal cars.
    Ancillary idea, Have city lower cost of insurance on cabs or requirement for such large expensive policy use that money to lower gates and add more cabs along with suggestions above, more cabs alone are not solution though , distribution of cabs more of a solution

    1. ETA - OTA, Sydcar is advertising on KNBR, Uber is offering discounts and we are doing what?

  2. i can tell you that yellow management position on fighting these pirates is = blank

    as long as foreigners and some natives show up for the lottery or have a ridiculous 4am to 2pm schedule, yellow management will not do anything or pretend to put up a fight.

    so, where are we ? who will speak for us ?

    i don't know about the other cab companies. but, for sure you can scratch yellow from the list.

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