Those in Boulder, Colorado, can now catch some zTrips.
The release offers the following on a company that is moving into the future after ride-hailing apps turned the tide of consumer expectations: “zTrip, a new innovative taxi service will launch with a fleet of 60 vehicles in the Boulder market today. zTrip combines the trust and safety of a taxi service, with the ease and speed of an on-demand car service app, providing benefits not available from any other competing ‘Car Hailing’ service in the area.”
As Daily Camera reports, the local taxis have been repurposed to make way for an innovation that is akin to an Uber service that is becoming all the more ubiquitous in major cities around the world.
The report states: “As of Tuesday, the fleet of Yellow Cabs in the county are now the zTrip fleet – 60 cars (mostly Scion XDs) that can be hailed via smartphone app.”
This unveiling takes place at a rather auspicious time for the budding business. We previously reported on 100 Uber drivers striking in New York City over a decrease in fares.
This is where companies like zTrip might be able to step in and reinvent the classic taxi model.
The release lists myriad ways that it differentiates itself from a company like Uber.
Here are a few posted in the release: “No surge pricing: The same low price every time, whether it’s 2 p.m. or 2 a.m.; Professional and licensed drivers with full fingerprint background checks: You don’t have to worry about who is driving you home; 24/7 live customer service: You can talk to a live support team member anytime.”
And, the most pertinent to travelers, this is relegated to the Boulder area.
Bill George, President of zTrip Boulder, offered thoughts on what could be a ray of hope for other companies that wish to wiggle their way into the Uber spotlight, stealing some fares back from ride-sharing companies that continue to dominate the market.
George proclaimed, “Unlike our competitors, we aren’t fighting background checks, we are embracing them.”
The president continued while highlighting the obvious safety features of zTrip: “As a parent of college students I don’t want my kids ever driving after they have been drinking. However, I am also very concerned about who might pull up to drive them home – zTrip provides the solution to put parents at ease, without sacrificing the ‘rideshare experience’ that students are accustomed to.”
At the moment you can hail a zTrip car on the street like a classic cab or by phone or in-phone app.
And there is a bit of monetary incentive at the moment: “To promote a safe ride home on Valentine’s Day, and honor CU Boulder’s 140th anniversary, zTrip will give away 140 free rides up to $25 in Boulder over the weekend (2/12/16 – 2/14/16).”
As previously mentioned, San Francisco’s Yellow Cab succumbed to bankruptcy while citing the rise of Uber and Lyft for its demise.
In Boulder, they are finding a way to change with the times. The taxi isn’t dead as long as you find a way to repurpose the fleet for the kind of trip commensurate with a new generation.
ZTrip may just be showing the industry the way home.
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A new ride-hailing service in Jacksonville is leading to the renaming of two old standbys in the transportation world: Yellow Checker and Gator cab companies of Jacksonville will officially be called zTrip as of Tuesday.
The company zTrip is similar to other personal transportation services such as Uber and Lyft in that a mobile phone application is used to hail a ride, but the vehicles can also be hailed on the street by riders in the traditional fashion of waving down a taxi. Already present in several cities, zTrip will not only be offering the mobile app service, but Checker and Gator cabs in Jacksonville will be changing their names to follow the zTrip branding.
That means the traditional Checker and Gator cab vehicles familiar with riders will go from the yellow and checked motif to silver paint with the zTrip logo which has a red “z” and black lettering for the “Trip” part of the logo, said Bill George, president of Transdev On Demand, owner of zTrip, Gator Cab and Checker Cab.
“We started the zTrip app about five years ago. … It’s more than just a paint job. It’s complete use of technology,” George said.
The app is fully integrated into taxi cellphone dispatching systems, he said.
Boulder, Colo., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Kansas City, Mo. and Kansas, have already had Yellow Cab service converted.
The zTrip cars will still be considered taxicabs, but the company will also offer unmarked cars, which are more standard in Uber and Lyft services.
“They have all the capabilities of a cab; you can still hop into one. We offer flexibility of payment; you can pay the driver in cash or credit card or through the app,” George said. Uber is paid automatically through the smartphone application.
“We also allow you to book us now or book us later,” George said. Uber is virtually on-demand and comes immediately when hailed. George said riders can reserve a zTrip ride several hours in advance.
Another feature of Uber and Lyft services is that they normally have lower fares. But George said the zTrip service is different from Uber or Lyft because zTrip does not do “surge pricing,” which increases fares during peak times of use.
“On a basis when they’re not surging, they [Uber and Lyft] can be cheaper. On the average trip, they might be a dollar or two cheaper, but when they surge they’re more expensive,” George said.
George said zTrip realizes there is still brand identity with the traditional taxis, so not all of them will disappear.
“When we change over a fleet, we put a host of new vehicles in there. In Jacksonville, we’ve added a bunch of new vans,” George said. “What we don’t do is paint over the yellow vehicles. There’s still some brand identity there.”
George said with the transition of the company and services added in with the fleet conversion and marketing, the project is costing the company $2.8 million.
“It’s a tremendous undertaking, but one that we get very positive results” in the cities that have already undergone the conversion, George said.
The alternative ride-hailing services have met with some controversy in many cities, including Jacksonville.
Jacksonville has failed to force Uber and Lyft and their drivers to follow the same regulations required of taxi drivers, which include vehicle inspections, background checks of drivers, and annual licensing fees. The city had demanded that the companies stop their operations, and issued a limited number of citations to the companies and their drivers.
Uber and Lyft officials maintain that they perform their own background checks. Despite those efforts, Jacksonville city officials said that they, along with other cities in the state, are looking to the Florida Legislature to settle the issue with an umbrella state law. But no such measures have been implemented.
George said the zTrip drivers are licensed professionals who receive background checks that include fingerprinting.
An email sent to Uber seeking comment was not returned Monday.
Drew Dixon: (904) 359-4098
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Yellow Cab of Colorado Springs announced Monday it will change its name to zTrip on Thursday as part of new strategy to combine smartphone hailing with its traditional taxi service to better compete with app-based riding sharing services Uber and Lyft.
Transdev On Demand, parent company of Yellow Cab of Colorado Springs, started using the zTrip name in 2012 and has adopted the new brand in all but two of the 18 U.S. cities where it operates, including Boulder in January 2016 and Fort Collins in June 2016. Yellow Cab of Denver, which is operated by Metro Taxi, also uses the zTrip app.
“zTrip is the new face of the taxi industry,” said Vanessa Keim, director of marketing for zTrip of Colorado Springs. “It is the best of both worlds. You can use an app to hail a ride, but you can still hail a cab on the street or call or go online to book a trip and we still provide wheelchair-accessible service.”
About 90 percent of Yellow Cab’s 145-vehicle fleet has been repainted with the zTrip logo; the rest of the vehicles will be retired by year’s end and thus will not be repainted, Keim said. The company also expects to receive 15 new vehicles later this week with the zTrip logo and colors, she said.
The company will host a celebration from 4:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday at Weidner Field, 6303 Barnes Road, home of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks soccer club, that will include free entertainment, beer from Pikes Peak Brewery, food trucks, face painting and a fundraising benefit for Jason and Janelle Graham, family members of a zTrip driver whose Houston home was destroyed last month by Hurricane Harvey.
The zTrip application allows users to book and cancel a trip, choose the type of vehicle they want to pick them up, get a rate quote upfront that does not include surge pricing used by other providers for peak demand periods, choose the payment form, get text message updates and track their driver until arrival, rate the driver and get customer support. The company said all of its drivers are licensed and work full time, are fully insured and have completed background checks.
“Unlike our competitors, we aren’t fighting background checks, we are embracing them,” zTrip President Bill George said in a news release on the name change. “We are committed to providing our drivers with the best working environment in the on-demand transportation sector.”
The company was founded by The Broadmoor hotel in 1927 to serve its guests and was acquired in 2012 by what its now Transdev On Demand. Springs Cab began serving the Colorado Springs area in 2011 and both Uber and Lyft expanded to Colorado Springs in 2014. Teller Cab serves the Ute Pass area, including Woodland Park.
Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234
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