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 ...