Cab-hailing app Hailo implemented a limited time discount program on Sept. 8 that cuts weekday fare prices by 50 percent for D.C.-area rides taken between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hailo, a free app co-founded by three taxi drivers which allows users to order taxi rides through their smartphones, is aiming to increase the use of traditional cab services in light of increased competition from Uber and other services. The discount follows shortly after digital dispatch service Uber’s decision to permanently slash UberX fare prices by 15 percent effective Aug. 18. As the D.C. Taxicab Commission standardizes D.C. taxicab fares, Hailo will pay out of pocket for this temporary program, though the company did not specify an end date for the promotion.
“It would appear that Hailo is attempting to compete on price to drive customer demand,” D.C. Taxicab Commission spokesperson Neville Waters said.
The app currently operates in five metropolitan areas in the United States, including a location that encompasses Washington, D.C., and its suburbs in Arlington, Va., Alexandria, Va., and Prince George’s County, Md. The company competes against both traditional cab companies such as Curb and Yellow Taxi and ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.
While ordering a cab through Hailo dispatches a standard D.C. taxi driver, Uber and Lyft dispatch drivers in their personal vehicles. According to Hailo North America Co-President Kevin Hatfield, Hailo is the more secure option because of the rigid licensing procedures in place for taxicab drivers, while Uber has recently come under fire for not properly screening its drivers.
“We think of it as creative disruption,” Hatfield said to In the Capital. “The push is to be fair and equitable with fully licensed drivers.”
Hatfield added that Hailo targets customers who prefer taxis over private vehicles, as Uber and Lyft have faced challenges from city councils for being an unlicensed taxi service.
Publicity for the promotion included an appearance from Jimmy McMillan, who rose to fame in New York as the founder of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, on Sept. 8 in front of the Verizon Center.
Students offered mixed reactions to the promotion.
Justin Abello (COL ’17) said he felt his familiarity with Uber would keep him loyal to the service.
“I don’t think Hailo’s fare cut will really affect or change my preference for riding Uber,” Abello said. “I’d definitely look into it, but I’d still probably use Uber because my friends and I have all been active users of it so far.”
On the other hand, Gayoung Jeong (SFS ’16) expressed enthusiasm for the discount program but added that the timing of the discount was less attractive for students, compared to other prospective users of the app.
“Even though I usually find the need for a cab or Uber in the evenings, if I have to go out somewhere during the times when the discounts are in effect, I’d definitely consider ordering a cab,” Jeong said. “It’d be better, though, to offer the same discount prices during evening rides.”