Do you find yourself spending more time waiting for a taxi?
Cuenca’s transportation office says it is receiving complaints from passengers about slow taxi response time, some claiming that a new Internet-based program called Easy Taxi is to blame.
Easy Taxi allows passengers who have downloaded the Easy Taxi app to their smart phone or tablet to send out a personal request for a taxi. When a taxi responds, the passenger receives an estimate of how long it will take for the taxi to arrive and can even track the taxi’s progress by gps on a digital city map.
Taxi drivers can opt into the program so long as they have a smart phone loaded with the Easy Taxi app.
The service costs 50 cents to 75 cents above standard fares but many Easy Taxi riders say it is worth it. Some drivers charge nothing extra.
Cuenca university student Jose Gonzalez gives the new service rave reviews. “I don’t have time to spend waiting on the street for a taxi. This lets me plan my schedule and I also find that the Easy Taxi drivers are friendlier in general,” he says.
Cuenca expat Jerry Monroe also has good things to say about the service. “After taxis started using meters with the new fares, I found that it was taking me longer to catch a ride,” he says. “Easy Taxi eliminates most of the wait. There have been a few problems but overall my experience with it is very good.”
Transportation chief Alfredo Aguilar does not see any evidence that Easy Taxi is affecting taxi customers who do not use the service. “We have seen a lengthening of the time it takes for passengers to find taxis but most of it appears to relate to the meters and the new fare schedule. There is some adjustment underway to the new system,” he says. He adds that the additional charge for Easy Taxi is a matter between the taxi driver and passenger, since it involves additional service.
Easy Taxi is operating in several larger cities in Ecuador although it is best established in Cuenca, says Jose Vera, Easy Taxi manager in Cuenca. “We have received positive response among our clients,” he says. He points out that the app necessary to become an Easy Taxi user can be downloaded at no expense.
There are a number of rules for Easy Taxi, Vera says. These can be reviewed when the app is downloaded.