Caribou Cabs, the capital’s main taxi company, joined the digital age when it launched a smartphone app two years in the making May 22.
With the purchase of Pai-Pa Taxi in March, Caribou Cabs has two 12-hour shifts, with 35 cars on each shift.
“We still have our 24-hour, seven days a week dispatching office, where we’re receiving a tremendous amount of calls. We do want to give both options to the customers,” said the company’s public relations manager Idris Omar.
“For those with the capability, they can use our app. It’s more of a convenience for those customers.”
Omar says the system is faster. He also says it’s safer, as the tablets used by drivers automatically record video and audio and GPS (global positioning system) tracking.
“It’s not he said, she said. I can follow them all. I can check where they are and where they have been. It’s more guaranteed safe, fast,” said Omar.
The addition of the video and audio means if there are problems inside a cab, Omar can review the footage and deal with the situation. Customers can also rate their drivers, increasing accountability and transparency.
With the app, the customer can track their incoming taxi, just like Uber in the south.
“The reliability increased very much,” Omar adds.
“Regardless of how many vehicles we have on the road, it’s easy for us to communicate.”
One future improvement to the app will be designated pick-up spots where there are no buildings.
“Regardless of where you are, we’ll get you,” said Omar.
And, eventually, non-cash payments via the app will be possible.
The app was custom built by Mega Taxi, the firm Omar worked with, to account for Iqaluit’s unique nature.
“The list of addresses, that was a big challenge,” he said.
“I travelled back and forth to Montreal, Ottawa, Gatineau, met with the programmer, came back here, put a few things together. Did some testing. Went back. Invited him over here. I hosted him and his assistant for two weeks. We did a lot of training. We did a lot of testing.”
The app is available for download at Google Play and the Apple App Store.