Reset Reviews San Francisco’s Cab Apps

By: Victoria Holliday

Hailing a cab in San Francisco  is near impossible.   While LA may have survived Carmageddon, San Francisco’s impending Cabmageddon, is set to make getting a cab even harder, as cab drivers are planning a 24-hour strike on August 2. This is the second cab strike to hit San Francisco in the past few months.

San Franciscans know - getting a cab in San Francisco is a daunting feat. You stand in the cold in front of your favorite dive bar waiting and waiting, and freezing as you wish for a cab to magically appear.

A Controller’s Report from 2006 found that 33% of San Franciscans looking for a cab on a weekend night had to wait more than 30 minutes. Part of the problem lies in the fact that San Francisco does not have a sufficient citywide taxi dispatch system. Without a unified system, several smartphone apps have emerged promising to make getting a cab in San Francisco easier.

San Francisco MTA Proposes Cab App

Reset has previously reported on the Municipal Transportation Agency’s $400,000 proposed cab app that would allow people with smartphones to see where cabs are in their immediate vicinity and then order one. The MTA’s proposal would expand the existing Cabulous app from 400 taxis to cover all of San Francisco’s 1,500 taxis (yes San Francisco apparently has that many cabs, even though they never seem to be there when you need them). Until this happens we decided to test out some of the existing apps to hail a cab in San Francisco.

San Francisco Cab Apps - A Better way to Get a Cab?San Francisco Cabulous App

The cab app Cabulous uses your phone’s GPS to locate nearby cabs. You can then choose a cab on the map to hail and track as it approaches. In addition to Cabulous, San Francisco also has Luxor Cab’s Taxi Magic app.

Taxi Magic allows users to type in their desired pick-up time and address, this information then summons a cab to you. Taxi Magic connects you directly to the taxi company's routing system. One plus of Taxi Magic is that in addition to showing users where nearby cabs are, you'll get instant updates with the taxi number, driver's name and, most importantly, how far your dispatched cab is from you after you book your cab, so you can wait comfortably inside for your cab. Taxi Magic also allows you to book cabs in advance by choosing your desired ride time.

We’ve had pretty decent luck using both apps, even on a busy weekend night. Cab apps have potential. But existing San Francisco cab apps are limited. And while the apps are more reliable than trying to hail a cab with your hand, they aren’t perfect.

Have you had success using apps to get cabs in San Francisco? Do you know of any other ones?
 

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