The Southern Nevada taxi industry has thrown its latest counterpunch at Uber and Lyft.
The company that manages local taxi companies’ credit card transactions has rolled out a smartphone application that will hail taxis the same way transportation network company customers summon rides.
Curb, a free app offered through Verifone, has been introduced as a competitive measure against ride-hailing companies. The system has been installed in 500 Frias Transportation Management cabs and is expected to be added within the next three months in cabs operated by Lucky, Western and Nellis cab companies. When the installation is complete, about half of the city’s cabs will be on the Curb platform.
It’s the second attempt by the cab industry to use ride-hailing technology to combat the rapidly growing Uber and Lyft presence in Southern Nevada. A Frias sister company developed the Ride Genie app, but it failed to generate much traction because of limited marketing.
Curb co-founder Sanders Partee said his app took a huge step forward when the company was acquired by Verifone for an undisclosed amount in October, expanding the app’s reach. The acquisition connected Curb to a network of more than 35,000 taxis in more than 60 cities. Partee said the number of taxis on the platform is expected to double by the end of next year.
“I like to say we provide easy, available, reliable, safe transportation,” Partee said.
The company is seizing on the debate over whether ride-hailing companies are as well-regulated and as safe as taxi companies. Integrating dispatch systems already in existence, Curb has capitalized by building a nationwide network that now extends to Las Vegas.
The company’s growth is part of its bid to become the go-to national taxi hailing app.
To use Curb, a consumer must download the app from the Apple or Google Play stores and register a credit card through the company’s secure network.
Users request a ride through the app which uses location services, a Wi-Fi driven system similar to the global positioning system. Unlike most ride-hailing apps, Curb enables a customer to reserve a ride immediately or later.
Once a ride is requested, a customer can view the driver’s progress to the location on a map.
When the ride is completed, the transaction is automatically paid through the on-file credit card. Customers have the ability to pay a tip through the app.
Currently, cab companies assess a $3 fee to pay a cab fare with a credit card. Partee said charging for credit card use is decision made by local company owners.
Partee said because Curb only works with licensed taxi fleets, a customer will have a safe experience and wouldn’t be subject to dynamic “surge” pricing offered by transportation network companies.
Frias Transportation, Southern Nevada’s largest transportation group, operates Virgin Valley, Ace, Vegas-Western, A NLV Cab and Union as well as limousine and airport shuttle companies.
The company’s top Southern Nevada competitors, Bell Transportation and Yellow Checker Star, haven’t embraced Curb.
A Yellow Checker Star official said his company is testing several different apps.
Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3893. Find @RickVelotta on Twitter.