Few apps scream “I’m a member of the 1 percent” louder than Uber, the black car service that allows anyone with a smartphone, credit card, and a willingness to part with obscene amounts of money for a glorified cab ride. While that’s fine for those who actually belong to that income bracket, we modern day plebeians are left out on the curb.
GetTaxi plans to change that. Today it’s announcing the G-Car, its answer to Uber’s black car service that’s set to launch “in the coming weeks.” Customers will be able to “summon” a car via their smartphones the same way they currently interact with Uber and other ride-sharing services; the app will be iPhone-only at launch, but will expand to other platforms shortly after.
This could be the black car service for the 99 percent, and it’s not just because of its rates, which GetTaxi USA CEO Jing Herman says will be priced to “make $20 go a long way.” It’s because the service is mulling the addition of one small, easy-to-miss item: A car seat.
“We’re not promising when we start that every single car is going to have a car seat in the trunk, but it’s definitely an idea that we’re working on,” Herman says, adding that family-friendly features are something GetTaxi’s customers have been asking for for a while.
And why wouldn’t they? Some people are parents. Many — I’d bet “most,” actually — New Yorkers rely on public transportation, cabs and private car services. There’s bound to be some overlap in that particular Venn diagram, and precluding parents from using a service every time they need to travel with their loin-spawn is simply bad business.
Besides the potential car seat, the G-Car isn’t much different from what you’d get if you were to summon a car with Uber. GetTaxi has partnered with livery services and has based the G-Car system around smartphones, with both drivers and riders using a dedicated application to manage their transactions. If you’ve ever called a livery service or ridden in an Uber, the G-Car should feel pretty familiar.
GetTaxi is currently piloting an “e-hail” application in New York, which allows city dwellers to order a yellow cab via their smartphones. Like other services — namely UberTaxi, Uber’s take on yellow cabs that was killed last year — the e-hail application has been plagued by regulatory issues, but a recent ruling allows the services to work with the Taxi & Limousine Commission and its fleet of 13,000 yellow cabs.
Still, the company wanted to introduce a product sooner rather than later, and so developed the G-Car as a sort of stop-gap while the regulatory hurdles surrounding yellow cabs work themselves out.
Introducing the G-Car, which Herman says is “not a luxury product” and will feature flat-rate pricing — as opposed to Uber’s oft-maligned surge pricing, which adjusts the rate based on demand and certain extenuating circumstances, like holidays and natural disasters – and focusing on people who don’t frequent board rooms could allow GetTaxi to compete with other low-priced options, like Lyft, Sidecar, and even Uber itself, which plans to expand its cheaper ride-sharing service, UberX, in the coming months.
Increasingly affordable services, like UberX and GetTaxi, could transform smartphone-summoned private drivers from an upper-class luxury into a middle-class commodity. And, if that’s going to happen, little things like including a car seat so a family doesn’t have to lug their own around (who wants to carry a car seat around all day?), or wait for public transportation, could go a long way.
[Image courtesy robnguyen01]