In response to Uber, NYC cabs testing new e-hail app

The NYC taxi industry is hoping to regain lost ground, with the introduction of a new e-hail app called Arro. Currently in beta testing in around 7000 cabs, the app could help the taxi industry compete with US$50 billion San Francisco-based technology company Uber, which has upset the taxi industry in New York and other cities around the world.

Calling a cab via app

Eighteen months in the making, Arro is actually quite similar to Uber and other e-hail apps, but the small startup believes it can do better than its predecessors because it doesn’t have surge pricing, meaning there should be no unpleasant surprises at the meter; and because of the partnership with Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT). This is the company that controls the video screens and payment systems in half of New York’s 20,000 green and yellow cabs.

The partnership with CMT allows Arro users to hail cabs through messages sent directly to drivers through data terminals in the front of cabs. Uber drivers, by comparison, accept e-hails through smartphones mounted on their dashboards.

“Our solution is integrated with the taxi, whereas Uber’s is not,” said Mike Epley, Director of Product Management, who worked as a logistics consultant for CMT before leaving to launch Arro.

How it works

When a user launches the app to call a cab, a driver nearby sees their name and location on his TV screen. In turn, the user is sent the driver’s name and medallion number. Since the app saves credit card details just like Uber does, users can also pay the fare and tip the driver via the app.


Arro – E-Hail With No Surge Pricing from Corbin Visual on Vimeo.


Plans for expansion

The system will be active in all CMT cabs by the time the service officially launches by the end of September. Mr. Epley said Arro is negotiating with VeriFone Systems, the firm that operates payment systems for the other half of the new York’s taxis.

While Arro will only work in NYC on launch, the startup plans to expand its services to San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago and Boston in the near future.