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Chicago Taxi App To Compete With Uber, Lyft, Is Launching Next Month

By Kate Shepherd in News on Jan 6, 2016 10:41PM

The City of Chicago is launching a universal taxi app service, and all licensed cab drivers will be required to participate. Chicago will be the first city with a universal smartphone app for cabs, according to the announcement.

Arro and Verifone have won the competitive bidding process to create the app, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection announced in a statement Wednesday.

"Chicago is a city that innovates and in this spirit I am proud to announce that Chicago will become the first city with a universal taxi app," Emanuel said in the statement. "With the new service, Chicago residents can expect to see improved rider experience and better access to taxis all across the city."

The app service will make it easier for locals and tourists alike to hail a taxi and will ensure safe, reliable transportation options, according to the statement.

The latest chapter in the ongoing war between Uber and cabbies could be a game changer. There's no doubt that the new service will be a direct competitor for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

"These apps will create even more transportation options for Chicago residents while benefiting taxi drivers," said Maria Guerra Lapacek, Commissioner of BACP. "By mandating that taxi drivers participate, Chicago residents will have additional transportation options and will more easily connect with a nearby taxi through the use of their smartphones, resulting in more fares for taxi drivers."

Arro and Verifone were chosen in a competitive bidding process after showing their ability to include "key features such as a secure payment option, estimated wait time, and fare quote estimate" in the app, the statement says.

Verifone's taxi-hailing app Curb is already connected to more than 4,000 vehicles in Chicago, the company's head of mobile programs Sanders Partee said in the statement, but it is not widely used.

Starting on Feb. 1, the nearly 12,700 licensed taxi drivers in Chicago will be required to use the app while on duty.

Taxi drivers and cab owners can learn more and sign up with Arro and Verifone as the app provider, on Thursday Jan. 7 and Friday Jan. 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2350 W. Ogden Ave., 1st Floor.