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Hailo to launch innovative taxi service later this month

While Toronto faces many transportation shortages—we'd all like faster subways and more frequent buses—one thing we are well-supplied with is taxis. With about 10,000 licensed drivers and just under 5,000 cabs, the per-capita tax rate is quite high.

Getting a taxi when you need one isn't quite so straightforward, however. If you're downtown, you might be able hail one in less than a minute. If you're further afield or it's a busy night, you might wait much longer.

Hoping to change that experience is Hailo Network Canada Inc., which officially became licensed as a taxi company in Toronto at the end of August, with plans to launch the last week of September. The app-based service is built on the premise that "the only two people who matter are the passenger and the driver," says Hailo Canada president Justin Raymond.

The app allows drivers and passengers to communicate directly, bypassing the traditional model of calling into a central line and having dispatchers send vehicles out. Hailo (which currently works on iPhone and Android phones) matches a passenger who wants a cab with the nearest vehicle; drivers text when they arrive so you can wait indoors. The app allows both drivers and passengers to rate each other. Payment, also done through the app, is by credit card.

You won't see any branded Hailo cabs driving down the block soon, though. Rather than introducing new cabs to the city, the company works with existing ones. Essentially, it's a tool for drivers, who sign up directly—Hailo may bring a Beck or Diamond or Royal cab to your door, depending on who is closest.

Toronto is Hailo's first North American venture. They already operate in London and Dublin, and will open in New York, Chicago and Boston soon, with other cities in both Canada and the US expected to follow. They've hired nine staff for the Toronto office and are "always looking for smart, innovative, tech-focused people," says Raymond.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Justin Raymond, President, Hailo Canada
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