A taxi hailing app that has taken London, Dublin and Toronto by storm made its U.S. debut in Boston Wednesday.
Founded in 2011 by three London taxi drivers and three internet entrepreneurs, the two-tap app connects cab hopefuls with licensed taxi drivers and offers customers the driver's photo, first name and rating as well as traffic updates.
The app also keeps cabbies safe from fare skipping, because payment is pre-authorized.
Hailo's Chairman and Founder Ron Zeghibe said the app has grown to be the number-one taxi service in London and Dublin, and became the second-largest in Toronto within days of it's launch, So it comes as no surprise that he is optimistic about its success in the Hub.
"Boston is one of those old, iconic taxi towns," said Zeghibe, a Boston native who now lives in London. "If we can make it work in one of the most iconic taxi cities in the world, we believe we can make it work almost anywhere."
What makes this app stand out, Zeghibe said, is that it appeals not only to passengers, but to the other side of the equation - drivers.
"It's a lonely job, being out there on your own. It's amazing how tight the driver fraternity is in all cities. The app lets drivers track where their mates are working that day; sort of a 'Facebook for cabbies,'" Zeghibe said.
Vanessa Kafka, general manager of Hailo Boston believes that city dwellers in Boston will be eager to ease what she calls "travel burdens."
"Now, Bostonians are the first to be able to quickly and easily hail a cab from the comfort of their home, office, dorm room or restaurant - never once having to step outside in the cold, rain or snow until they see on their smartphone that their taxi has arrived."
The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store on iPhone and Google Play for Android devices. Hailo's main competitor, GPS-based on-demand livery company Uber, is promoting its taxi service by offering free rides this week.