Thursday, December 11, 2008

Taxi Offers Unlimited Rides For 48 Euros Per Month

Link of the day - Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

Gyms use it, broadband providers use it, DVD rental schemes use it, subways use it… Now it’s time for taxis to adopt a flat-rate charge. Swiss start-up Taxmobil is planning to offer unlimited taxi use for a EUR 48 monthly fee. Customers will be able to buy a Taxmobil card online or from sales points around the city, and can call for a car to pick them up at whatever time they choose, travelling to any destination in the city. If two strangers are travelling in the same direction, Taxmobil may combine their journeys.

The key to Taxmobil’s strategy is the fact that it doesn’t own the cars it uses. Instead, it buys the time of idle taxis that are already out and about, creating a service that’s affordable and convenient for customers, and could decrease congestion and parking problems if city dwellers trade in their cars for a Taxmobil card.

Böblingen in Southern Germany is likely to be the first town offering the service, starting early 2009, with other towns across Europe to follow. Travel is only permitted within a city, although members will be able to catch a taxi in other participating cities, too. As well as expanding the service’s reach, Taxmobil will soon be extending its package options by complementing its standard EUR 48 subscription with cards for businesses and families. Discounts and member benefits will be made possible with the cards in future, too.

While public transport and bicycles are usually pitched as the green alternative to car ownership, there’s something to be said for adding affordable taxis to the mix, offering people the option of individual door-to-door transport around the clock. How the system will work on rainy days, and whether EUR 48/month will leave any room for a profit, remains to be seen. One to watch!

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