Coventry Connections is partnering with eCab, an international smartphone app, in an effort to level the digital playing field for their taxi fleets in their battle against app-based ride hailing services like Uber.
© Joël Côté-Cright
Coventry Connections president Hanif Patni.
by Marc Shaw
eCab is currently live in 37 cities around the world including Vancouver and Toronto. It will add Ottawa to that list on Thursday.
Customers can use the app in any city where it has coverage to order a ride from the nearest licensed vehicle. The app comes with services such as real-time taxi tracking and the ability to rate drivers.
This new partnership comes at a time where the legality of competing services like Uber and Lift is being disputed in the nation’s capital. For Coventry’s president and CEO, Hanif Patni, the ongoing court proceedings involving Uber have little to do with the decision to partner with eCab.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with injunction or the fact that council is going to look at these regulations again,” he told OBJ. “The taxi business has been around forever. We started innovating when the engine was created and stopped using the horse and carriage. We started innovating when we got GPS and computers and we started innovating with apps long before the competition from these illegal operators came around. It’s just an evolution of offering more services, technologies and ways of booking and paying for taxis.”
Through the app, users will have the option of using the eCab plus and eCab VIP services. eCab plus will grant access to a fleet of business vans which come stocked with bottled water and Wi-Fi access for the cost $10 on top of standard cab fare. eCab VIP will charge by the minute, but will provide limousine service in different types of vehicles like Sedans and SUVs.
The app will work within the city of Ottawa’s taxi regulations to provide these services.
“eCab is a French startup and fully international by essence. It’s a startup incubated by G7, the largest taxi operator in Europe so it is fully committed to and backed by the industry,” eCab’s North American regional head Gilles Gomis said. “We have a lot of expertise on the way vehicles are dispatched and the way we can build the best processes to better serve the customer. You will get a fixed transparent price, whatever the time of the day.”
The eCab app’s key features include access to drivers who meet the city’s strict regulations, the ability to hail wheelchair accessible vehicles, visible estimated pickup and arrival times, on the spot and pre-booking of rides, and the choice to go cashless and pay within the app itself.
On Thursday, the same day eCab goes live in Ottawa, Mr. Patni will be speaking at the Eggs N’ Icons breakfast, presented by OBJ and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce at the Sheraton Hotel. He’ll be discussing the new partnership as well as other issues his industry is facing.