Taxi Magic shows off new powers with biggest update ever

Taxi Magic dispatched the biggest update ever of its popular mobile app today to further improve the experience of calling a cab.

The company shaped the new version based on feedback from users. It offers a whole new platform with a rebuilt backend and enhanced user interface. Now, the scheduling capability is front and center. Those seeking transportation have the ability to book vehicles in advance, and Taxi Magic’s technology will factor in a variety of conditions to intelligently judge what time the car should arrive. The app looks at real-time traffic and weather conditions, as well as data regarding the overall demand for taxis around that date and time.

Taxi Magic’s system also retains user information to make the booking and paying process even easier. Frequently used addresses are saved so riders can simply tap their location. And the app accepts three payment options: cold, hard cash; credit/debit in the cab; or mobile payment.

These features apply for both advance scheduling and on-demand service. Flagging down ground transportation can be tricky, particularly during peak hours or in cities where the demand far outweighs the need (*cough* San Francisco *cough*). Ringing up a cab company is no guarantee that a car will arrive in a timely manner (or at all), nor is standing spread-eagled on a corner, inevitably in the rain. Taxi Magic conveniently provides estimated arrival times, so rather than twiddling your thumbs and wondering if a cab will ever come, you can track the progress of nearby vehicles.

Calling a cab using Taxi Magic does not automatically mean it is reserved. Taxi Magic sends the requests to the dispatches of the fleets it works with, but it is still up to the individual drivers to take the fare. One of the most exciting features in the pipeline is a percentage rating that will tell bookers the likelihood a car will come. Users can make transportation decisions accordingly. A rating of 20% may mean it is time to look into a bus or break out the walking shoes.

Taxi Magic marketing director Matt Carrington shared with me a few bits of back-seat wisdom.

“Most taxi drivers don’t want to go to remote parts of town because most fares are in denser areas,” he said. “There is a battle between driver and rider going on. A big concern is that a rider will ditch the ride, and drivers want to get the best fare possible. We factor in what the service level looks like, so if a taxi does not come, users won’t be upset.”

Taxi Magic currently operates in 42 markets across the US and has 25,000 vehicles in its system. Each city has distinct characteristics that impact the way the app operates. For example, Taxi Magic has a major presence in San Francisco, where it is infamously challenging to find a cab due to the fact that, on a per capita basis, SF issues an appallingly low number of taxi licenses.

In a place like New York City, where cabs are ubiquitous, residents do not rely on apps to hail cabs. In the time it takes to call and book a cab, at least five empty ones have probably driven by. The sedan service (similar to Uber) does well, however, as New Yorkers seem to appreciate riding in style. DC has a number of independent cab companies and drivers, which can make quality regulation a challenge. Taxi Magic has met with great success in LA due to that city’s sprawling geography, because people require cars often and are used to paying large fares.

Taxi Magic is the flagship product of RideCharge Inc, a company based in Alexandria, VA. RideCharge was initially founded in 2007 to facilitate ground transportation for business travel, and the company was ahead of the game when it launched Taxi Magic as early as 2009. Since then competitors like Cabulous and cab4me have cropped up, Taxi Magic still dominates the field. It has recieved $20M in funding to date from Concur and Veolia Transportation and will soon cross the 50 employee threshold.