SFMTA board to consider electronic hailing system for taxis

Mike Koozmin/The S.f. Examiner File photoSFMTA Transportation Director Ed Reiskin expressed confidence in interim taxi head Kate Toran's ability to help keep The City's taxi industry competitive among the rise of app-based ride services.

The City’s transportation board today will consider allowing the taxi industry to implement the element that helped make its popular competition — mobile app-based ride services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar — successful in the first place.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency could move forward with a software license and service agreement with Frias Transportation Infrastructure to support a smartphone electronic taxi-hailing system. The five-year contract, not to exceed $6 million, would also include data collection useful for understanding taxi travel patterns and peak hours.

While Flywheel and Taxi Magic already provide electronic hailing service, this is the first time all of The City’s 10 dispatch companies and roughly 2,000 cabs would be tracked on one platform, said Chris Hayashi, deputy director of the SFMTA’s Taxis and Accessible Services Division.

Similar to the startup ride services that have flooded the streets of San Francisco in the past few years, the electronic hailing system would allow customers to see and request the nearest available taxi on their smartphones.

“The fact that there’s such intense competition out there is one of the reasons we considered this option,” Hayashi said. “We want to give taxi drivers more business and we want passengers to have access to more taxis.”

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