ZabCab, New Taxi Cab App, Launches in Broward County | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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ZabCab, New Taxi Cab App, Launches in Broward County

With Uber's ongoing battle with Broward County commissioners over how the ride-sharing app company is to be regulated, the taxicab industry has gotten in on the app game with the New York-based company ZabCab. 

Much like Uber and Lyft, the ZabCab app allows a person to summon a ride via his phone — in this case, a taxicab. The app, which was officially released in Miami and Fort Lauderdale on Monday, is being used by Broward's Yellow Cab, one of the largest cab companies that operates throughout the county.

The app, which can be downloaded here, is bilingual and available for both iPhone and Android users. With a swipe, the app shows a person the closest cabs to where they are and if one of them has accepted the call for pickup. The app also tracks the cab and gives the user the option to rate the driver, much like Uber. If a cabbie gets a certain amount of bad reviews, he'll be kicked off the ZabCab app system.

ZabCab CEO Martin Heikel says the app levels the playing field for cabdrivers, and this could be a big deal in Broward County. 

“Licensed and regulated taxi drivers, who have gone through background checks, now have an easy-to-use, fully compliant smartphone app to compete with ridesharing apps,” Heikel told the local media on Tuesday. “They’ve played by the rules and can claim their place in the ridesharing age. Essentially, this technology brings the taxi industry into the 21st Century.”

Since Uber and Lyft arrived in Broward and Palm Beach, tensions have risen over the way they are allowed to operate and run by what the cab industry says are a different set of rules.

Cabdrivers in Broward and Palm Beach are required to undergo fingerprint and state and FBI background checks. Both counties considered putting Uber under the same regulations, but the ride-sharing company ceased operations in Broward until those regulations were lifted. Earlier this month, commissioners agreed to try to soften the regulations but have yet to come up with a workable solution. Palm Beach County is considering similar initiatives

But the cab industry has maintained that Uber should not be allowed to operate by a different set of rules, for the good of public safety. — something that seems to be a key selling point for ZabCab.

"Without some basic regulations, Uber will continue to put their own drivers in conflict with their personal auto policies, and as a result each driver at serious risk related to insurance and liability for accidents, including third parties," Roger Chapin, a board member with the Florida Taxicab Association, tells New Times. "Basic regulations pertaining to background checks and insurance should remain for the benefit of the traveling public and the drivers themselves.”

As of now, the app will be operating in Miami and in Broward. Palm Beach cabdriver Jennifer Condie tells New Times she wants to see the app extend to her county as well.

"Not only are cabs GPS dispatched via cell phone [but] cash riders are finally empowered with the ZabCab app technology," she says. "We want this innovation and technology in Palm Beach County. The ZabCab dispatch is a support service for the legal vehicle-for-hire industry." 

Condie says the only thing keeping ZabCab from offering its service in Palm Beach County is a loophole in the county ordinance that lets cab companies set their own rates.

Condie has sent a letter to Eugene Reavis, Palm Beach County's chief of Consumer Affairs division, requesting the county to look into getting ZabCab. She's also spoken with Heikel and asked him to reach out to Palm Beach County to see about working with cab companies while the commissioners work on the ordinance.

ZabCab says it stands out because it offers riders a licensed taxicab driver and allows for cash or credit card options for payment without having to enter credit card information and because there's no surge charge during peak hours. 

The app also has a lost-and-found feature in which, should you accidentally leave something in the cab, you can summon the driver back by hitting a specific button and it'll return with your lost stuff. 

In addition to this, ZabCab says the company will also feature ZabCab Front Desk in Broward, which works with hotels and restaurants that need to call multiple cabs at a time for their customers. 

“Hotel concierges and others in the hospitality business now can order multiple cabs, track them in the app, and let guests know when their cabs will arrive,” Heikel says. “Hotels strive to provide their guests with a high-quality experience but typically cringe when they need to call a cab for guests because they have no idea if and when a cab will show up. ZabCab Front Desk takes the guesswork out of the equation, helping hotels and other hospitality businesses provide better service to their guests.”