Philadelphia Cabs Debut New Uber-Like Payment App

Your smart phone can now talk to your taxi using sound waves. Yes, sound waves!

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The first cab driver I asked about the new Way2Ride payment app for Philadelphia taxicabs had no idea what I was talking about. The second held up his ancient flip phone, saying, “I don’t have no apps.” The third literally laughed at me.

way2ride-philadelphia-cab-appAfter his good, hearty, mocking laugh, he continued a conversation he had been having on his handsfree. It was in some foreign language that I didn’t recognize, other than the word “app” thrown in every 20 words or so, followed by more laughter. He just kept shaking his head and laughing, and I got out of his cab.


Eventually, of the ten cabs I entered on Thursday, only one seemed to be ready to accept payment via Way2Ride, and the other nine had no knowledge of it, even though a spokesman for the Philadelphia Parking Authority told me Thursday that the program was live.

Last week, Verifone, the company that already handles credit card payments for Philadelphia cabs, sent out a press release announcing that passengers could use Way2Ride in 1,400 of the city's 1,600 cabs.

Way2Ride works like this:

You download Verifone's free Way2Ride app to your smartphone and register for the service using your email address, phone number and credit card number, just like Uber.

But unlike Uber, you don't summon a ride using Way2Ride (at least not yet — Verifone suggests that a dispatch service may be available via the app in the future). You just hail a cab as you've been doing for decades.

Once you are in a cab that accepts Way2Ride, find the "Check In" button on the cab's backseat TV screen and press it. Then, pull up your Way2Ride app, and click on "I'm In a Taxi" on your phone.

Then comes the, um, magic. You turn your phone to face the TV's speaker and wait until the speaker buzzes. Yes, buzzes. The phone and cab then talk to each other with this buzzing, letting Way2Ride know which cab you are in so that it knows what to charge you at the end of the ride.

The one time that I did succeed in billing my trip to Way2Ride, it took me about three tries to actually get it all to work properly. There seems to be another option to link your phone to the cab by entering a unique code, but that didn't work for me.

But eventually, my phone and the cab started communicating with buzzes, and at the end of my ride, I was able to adjust the tip amount on my phone and hop out of the cab. A receipt is sent via email.

Of course, I'm already used to paying for the many cab rides I take with a credit card, just by swiping it on the card reader, and that seems a whole lot simpler than all this Way2Ride hassle. But when and if they debut a feature that allows me to actually request a cab using the app, I'll give it a try again — but I'll still probably wind up reverting to Uber.

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  • SamuelRoby

    Great. I think such apps should be offered by all cities and municipalities across the
    states.
    This will help local municipal governments to plug their budget gaps with relative ease.
    Why let Uber take that $$$$ offshore where it has been founded ?
    It’s local revenue – why let it slip ?
    Local apps. Offered by municipalities. Will ensure quality safety and most importantly
    preserve our local economies and communities.
    Well done.

    • denis wilson

      The maker of this app is VeriFone which is based in California. Also, Uber wasn’t founded offshore unless you count California offshore.

  • denis wilson

    how is this “Uber-like”? Uber is distinguished by its hailing capability.

  • DF

    You can now hail cabs in Philly directlyfrom your smartphone using the app 215GetACab.

    Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/215getacab/id888576604?mt=8
    Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.checkercabphilly.getacab

    • 215UberUser

      This app crashes on iOS when you try to hail a cab.

  • Irina

    I just visit Philadelphia from Miami and was looking for a smart phone application similar to those that are mentioned in this article. I was happy to find one called “215GetACab”. I downloaded this FREE APP and guess what it worked! The app claimed no surcharges only regular PPA approved meter rate. It offered options for regular sedan, wheelchair accessible or minivan. It worked like a charm, the option of payment was credit card or cash at the end of the ride. The driver was very friendly, his minivan looked very clean. I ask the driver from All CIty Taxi how many cars are in this dispatch? He did know exactly but guessed 700 to 800. I am surprised nobody knows about this company and this application.

    • RonR

      Thank you Irina ! I downloaded “215GetACab”.
      “215GetACab” worked perfectly, the cab showed up in a minutes.
      Finally students like me can use it in Philly. Thanks again.

      • Craw

        Shills

    • Eric

      Wow, you’re not an astroturfer at all, are you?

  • kclo3

    The “buzzing” communication sounds a lot like a dial-up connection

  • Jay

    you must work for Uber or something I’d downloaded the app and it worked fine … why do people mix Uber with taxicabs …? to my understanding Uber is suppose to be a Limousine and/or car service (a luxury service) and I don’t know about you but when I use these services I expect a better service than a taxicab and that’s why I pay more .. Uber itself is really only an app .. that it … if I want
    a “HACK” I could just go to broad and erie or 52nd and market or look for a ride at the local supermarkets ……

    • http://yearofthegeek.net John M.

      If the city allowed Uber X you’d see a big difference. Sadly, we only get to use Uber Black Cars and SUVs. Oh well.

  • ck

    It usually takes me that many tries to find a cabbie who will accept credit cards..