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Charleston cab company set for ‘Super Bowl’ of taxi driving

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A smartphone app may make getting a taxi easier this New Year's Eve as C&H Taxi ramps up its Intoxi-Taxi program for those ringing in 2013 with spirits.

The company will be offering free rides to New Year's revelers again this year in effort to make sure those celebrating have a safe way home. Jeb Corey, vice president of C&H, said this year it should be easier for riders to secure a ride with the addition of smart phone apps.

A C&H Taxi iPhone app was introduced earlier this month on the company's website while the Android version was released in October.

Corey said New Year's Eve is always hectic for cabbies and dispatchers at the garage because of the heavy call volume.

"New Years Eve is always so busy but there's no wait time for dispatchers with the apps," Corey said. "You won't have to call at all. It automatically goes into our system and another great thing about the app is that it allows you to keep track of your trip."

Corey said once people input their location and destination they are assigned a cab number. Once that cab number is assigned the person can track the cab and find out how long it will be until their ride arrives.

The person can see the taxi's location in real time on a map and watch it move. They also are given the cab number so that when the vehicle arrives they know if it is there for them.

"It's a phenomenal improvement on our service," Corey said. "People who use the app will have their lives made so much easier."

He said using the app won't make the taxis come any faster, but it will make ordering a cab more efficient.

"It's just us keeping up with or ahead of the times," Corey said of the 31-year-old company's move to the app platform.

"One of the big things in the taxi industry is that people want to do things quickly," he said. "The other thing, people want to know what's going on with their taxi. They'll call and call wondering where their taxis are, now they don't have to do that."

Twenty-five cab company's vehicles, including sedans, Eco-Ride Toyota Priuses, and the WAVE handicap-accessible minivan, will be out tonight to provide rides and more dispatchers will be on hand to help answer phones.

Corey said typically the company averages about 700 rides in the 24-hour period surrounding New Year's Eve, nearly double their normal average of 400 a day. The free ride service also is offered on St. Patrick's Day and Halloween.

"New Year's Eve is like the Super Bowl for cab drivers," Corey said. "It's kind of ridiculous to make your product or service free on a night when you know you're going to be doing a lot of business, but we want to do everything we can to keep drunk drivers off the roads.

"We want people to use our service instead of drinking and driving."

He said providing the service is costly but that sponsors like Capitol Beverage Company and West Virginia Radio Corporation help defray the cost. Longtime sponsor Heineken went above and beyond, kicking in more money than ever this year, Corey said.

"Because the program has gotten more popular it's gotten more expensive," he said. "It's a several thousand dollar project just for New Year's Eve. We cannot do it without the help of our sponsors."

Like in times past, those using the service ride free the first 15 miles and can only be going home, not to another bar or party. The service is limited to Kanawha County and the rider must say Intoxi-taxi to receive the free ride.

Corey said the Intoxi-taxi service will be running from 10 p.m. today to 5 a.m. Tuesday.  

Those needing a lift can use the app, which is available for free download on the company's website at www.chtaxi.com, or call a dispatcher at 304-344-4902.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.

 


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