Friday, May 30, 2014

Flywheel Amps Up Together with the MTA

Cab drivers are worse gossips than small town sewing circles so let's start with a few rumors.

One had it that Uber had bought out Flywheel. A more recent canard claimed that Flywheel changed its name from Cabulous to get "cab" out of the title because they intended to begin a peer to peer taxi service ala Summon.

I spoke with CEO Steve Humphreys (photo left) about this and he said that Uber would buy Flywheel "over my dead body." He also said that he had no interest in starting a ride-share operation because he thinks that taxis will win out in the long run. Insurance and the superiority of trained taxi drivers over untrained amateurs, in his opinion, will carry the day.

Humphreys, a man with an engaging smile and infectous enthusiasm, agreed with the thought that once the accidents start adding up, "the other options won't look so attractive."

Flywheel Partnering with the SFMTA

Starting tomorrow, June1, 2014, Taxi Services will be running a series of advertisements boosting the taxicab business in which Flywheel will get prominent mention.

This, course, is the brainchild of Director Christiane Hayashi who was the person who first introduced Flywheel (then Cabulous) to San Francisco taxi drivers almost four years ago.  Humphreys has been working closely together with Hayashi and Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin to make the marketing effort pay off.

The promotion will go at least through June and possibly longer.

Flywheel as the Universal App

Flywheel has pretty much taken over as as THE universal app in San Francisco on the basis of the last man standing.

Taxi Services was going to develop its own app but was unable to do so for technical reasons too complicated to get into here and Taxi Magic appears to have fallen by the wayside. Barry Korengold and I (along with Hayashi) tried to bring Hailo into town but, for whatever reason, they didn't want to come. As it turned out, that's probably a good thing.

What I like about Flywheel

When the app was Cabulous, I took a call on Jackson and got a woman that I'd driven a few months before. I asked her how she liked the service. She said that I was only Cabulous driver that she'd hailed who had ever shown up.

I mention this as a contrast to the feedback I've been getting lately, as to how far Flywheel has progressed during the last few years. Almost every rider I pick up is enthusiastic about the app and many of them are coming back to taxis because of it. One woman told me that "they'd just been waiting for cabs to get something like this."

In the last three months, I've picked up more customers on Flywheel in the Richmond, the Sunset, the Excelsior, Noe Valley and Potrero Hill than I've picked in the last three years in all other ways put together. No-goes on Flywheel are almost nonexistent and you get a cancellation fee on rare occasions when the party isn't there.

In short, Flywheel has become a main weapon in the battle against Uber/Lyft.

Flywheel has recently signed up thousands of new customers. Let's go get 'em.

More later ...


  1. As for a driver, I don't pick up much flywheel hails. It was great Cabulous and the drivers were kicked out of the system after it get popular among riders. We never get charge, I can use my own phone( less electronic in cab), and I can see the map with location pluse TIP!!
    Now I have to guess where the passenger is, worry about their phone might get stolen even it only worth about R100 but I will get charge $300. There are a lot of fares without tip and it cost me 10% and I cannot cancel?????!!!! When passenger cancel within 2 minutes, we don't get pay but I miss the street flags so many times. And flywheel hails are mostly downtown area.
    If Cabulous (John) did not shoot himself in the foot by making fleet only and disabled the individual driver accounts, we won't see Flywheel, Uber,Lyft or other stupid bandits and corrupt people.
    A lot of drivers are not happy with flywheel either.

  2. Hey Ed, you misspelled SFMTA, you wrote SFMA.

    Anyway, I started using Flywheel and like it. When I ask customers, they like it too.

  3. Thanks for the correction John. Yes. Many people are beginning to understand how bad the tnc drivers are.

  4. Seems like my comment don't pass the censorship.

  5. Hi David,

    It's true that I do censor some of the stuff sent to me – usually if it includes a personal attack or is nonsense but I simply didn't read your comment earlier.

    A lot of people have criticism about Flywheel and I'm going to write a 2nd post addressing some of the problems.

    But I don't know who would charge you $300 for a cheap phone. And, I think that Flywheel (formerly Cabulous) is allowing individual driver accounts again. I may be wrong but I don't think so.

    Anyway – I'll ask Flywheel a few question and then I'll do another post on the subject.

    If anybody else has criticisms let me know.



  7. Hi Ed,

    Just read your blog on Flywheel. I wanted you to know too that San Francisco Federal Credit Union is on board with Flywheel and helping to get the word out. We are promoting them to our more than 32,000 members. I personally use it every time I take a cab and love it! This is a recent email that we sent out to members giving them a $10 credit when they use Flywheel.

    Hope you’re doing well.

    Rebecca Reynolds Lytle
    SVP & Chief Lending Officer
    San Francisco Federal Credit Union

  8. Going to be a former Lyft driver I think flywheel should hand out cards with a $10 credit for first time users can't wait to pass the MTA test and get my A-card

    Also there should be a recruitment campaign aimed at the younger crowd freshen up the cab industry. As a 23 year old I am happy of reaching a dream of being a REAL cab driver

  9. Good Info for the Taxi drivers. Please post more to use Flywheel effectively.

  10. good article no doubt Flywheel has become a main weapon in the battle against Uber/Lyft.|!!


  11. no one mentions that uber taxi has 20 times the business that flywheel has. just saying....

  12. To Anonymous. I don't know if it does have that much more business. I've never used it because they're the enemy. From what I hear Uber taxi's business is declining while Flywheel's is increasing.

    1. One of the reasons that uber Taxi might be declining is because uber disables their uber Taxi service frequently,so they can forward their customers(that still want to ride Taxis) to use their other services(uberx,uberblack..).
      Also,uber does it in a sneaky way,either by not having the uber Taxi icon appear on their App for the customer to choose,or sometimes when the icon appears and the customer click on it,it says "not available",which gives the impression to the riders that there is never a Taxi available when needed.

  13. Flywheel is doing very well at the moment. I make much money with it.

  14. does it mean that the lame app that yellow uses and customers never heard of - goes away ?

    the flywheel site says that they have to give the phones to the drivers. apparently can't be download it.