Saturday, August 9, 2008

SMS booking of taxi

I am working with a technology partner to introduce SMS booking of taxi.

A passenger can send a SMS with the postal code to a server. A SMS will be sent to the passenger within two minutes, giving the particulars of the taxi. The taxi driver will call the passenger shortly afterwards. They can communicate the pickup place. Tentatively, the fare is $1.50 for off-peak hours and $3 for peak hours.

The passenger can download a program into the mobilephone. This program allows the passenger to press a button to send a SMS to the server, with the current location (i.e. no need to enter the postal code).

If no taxi is available, the server will send a SMS back within two minutes. The SMS message will contain the LTA taxi booking number for the customer to call.

I hope that many people will find it to be more convenient to get a taxi to come to the doorstep and do not mind paying $1.50 extra. The taxi driver does not need to waste petrol in plying the road to look for passengers.

The passenger can also book a taxi at a lower booking fee of $1. If a taxi is available, the taxi driver will call the passenger. If there is no call within 3 minutes, the passenger can assume that the taxi is not available. There will be no SMS message to notify the customer about the status of the taxi.


  1. This is a good idea! I see the pros as:-
    a) More efficient matching can be done between passenger demands and taxi supply;

    b) To offset part of the cost for such booking, location-based sms advertising may be considered.

    However, I do see the cons of it:-
    a) what is the lowest denomination of hardware (handphone model) that such system can support? There are people still using old models such as Nokia 6510 or even 3210.

    b) reliability of the telcos' SMS service; At times, I realised that I received sms from friends one day late, even though we have actually spoken on the phone after the sms was sent!

  2. I thought this was already out? When I call for a cab, they say I could SMS instead.

  3. For the current SMS booking, they still charge the high fee of $3.50 (peak) and $2.50 (off-peak). The SMS system still uses some form of manual intervention.

    My proposed SMS booking system can reduce the booking fee to $1.

  4. As GPS is becoming available on more phones, how about also provide the GPS position to the taxi driver, automatically showing the location on their map application. If the person is making advance booking, then can just save the GPS position for future use, or find out in advance using Google Maps.

    I am also thinking of MMS instead of SMS, where the passenger can take a self photo allowing easy identification by the taxi driver. For privacy issue, it can be a photo of an item carried instead of the passenger.

    These would save time, cost and avoid ambiguity in verbal communication describing where to pick up and who is taking the taxi.


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