Uber is crushing the taxi industry that has dominated New York City for so many years, but now NYC cabbies may have finally figured out a way to fight it, Lyft and a whole array of on-demand transit apps that have cropped up in recent years. Arro is a new app for iPhone and Android that aims to connect you with New York City taxis. Arro promises no surge pricing, which may be its biggest selling point against companies like Uber and Lyft, which have “dynamic pricing” models that hike up prices during rush hour.
How does the app work?
The app has two major functions:
The first function, “Need A Taxi,” allows you to call for a yellow cab to your specific location and pay for the fare via the app. Once you launch the app, a map opens up indicating your specific location as well as the exact location of the taxi. Once, you have been assigned a taxi you are provided with the medallion number, making it easily identifiable when it arrives. Similar to Uber, it also provides an estimated time of arrival. Once the ride is over, your credit card on file is charged automatically, and the receipt is emailed to you.
The second function, “In A Taxi,” enables you to pay for a ride that you’re already taking. You just need to tap “In A Taxi” and enter the 7-digit code shown on the taxi TV screen. Again, your credit card will be charged automatically at the end of the ride and the receipt is emailed to you.
As I was leaving work yesterday at 6:00pm, I used the app to hail a taxi. It said the estimated time of arrival was two minutes. This was clearly misleading, as I was standing on the corner of 39th and 5th Ave. and the taxi appeared to be on the corner 43rd and Lexington. Any New Yorker would know that, at 6:00pm, it would take a bit more than two minutes for a taxi cross four blocks three avenues. Ultimately, it took 13 minutes for the taxi to arrive. Another drawback I noticed was that the app did not allow for any verbal communication with the driver and only allowed for messaging.
Upon entering the taxi, the cabbie asked me, “Miss, may I ask you a question? Isn’t it just easier to hail a taxi instead of using this app? The app said I was two minutes away and that’s just ridiculous. I couldn’t even call you. It does not account for the real travel time, and that’s why every customer cancels on me.” It seemed like the cabbie and customer were both losing out.
However, once the trip ended, I checked the receipt and my fare was only $10.23. Compared to the $21 fare minimum Uber was projecting, Arro’s no surge pricing strategy seems like a winner.
That’s what it really comes down to: would you wait ten minutes or more to save $20? I would imagine that for most people, the answer is “yes!” The app has huge potential to fight back against companies like Uber and Lyft; however, it is apparent that certain changes need to be made before Arro can compete effectively.
This post was written by current Renegade intern Ria Doshi.