Yellow Cab Austin, its business battered by new competition from ridesharing companies, is adding a new app to hail cabs — and it strays from the term “cab” in this rideshare-loving environment.
The company announced Thursday that it will begin using the ZTrip app for passengers to book rides. Yellow Cab already has an app, Hail-a-Cab, that does this. In a statement announcing the launch of the company’s ZTrip app, the company said it would keep Hail-a-Cab operational while trying to transition customers to the new app.
The new Yellow Cab ZTrip service has been in development for months, according to John Bouloubasis, president of Texas Taxi Inc., the parent company of Yellow Cab Austin and other Texas Yellow Cab franchises in San Antonio, Houston, Galveston and Pasadena.
“We’ve been talking about it for a while,” he said. “We were looking for another app that’s a national brand, and they have the tech support to take this to the next level.”
ZTrip, as an app, has already been operating in Austin since March. That’s because ZTrip is not its own ridesharing or taxi service. Rather, it is a mobile software platform developed by Paris-based TransDev International that traditional for-hire ground transportation services contract with to add app-based ride-hailing services to their offerings. ZTrip has already partnered with local taxi companies in Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Baltimore, Orlando, Tampa, Denver and Phoenix. In Pittsburgh, Yellow Cab announced it’s going so far as to change its name from Yellow Cab of Pittsburgh to ZTrip Taxi.
In March, ZTrip’s app launched in Austin in partnership with the owner of the local ExecuCar and SuperShuttle franchises. That company obtained a transportation network company operating authority, the legal instrument that allows Uber-style ridesharing services in the city, from the city of Austin. Despite obtaining this authority, the ExecuCar/SuperShuttle and ZTrip partnership operates more like a traditional taxicab company, with fully-liveried company cars ferrying fares from A to B.
But Yellow Cab will not be applying for a TNC operating authority, according to Bouloubasis. Rather, the ZTrip app will just be another way a user can hail a cab.
“They are going to be operating as taxicabs,” said Bouloubasis. “It will put passengers with licensed, vetted taxicabs.”
Bouloubasis said the company plans to add ZTrip booking to its subsidiaries in San Antonio, Houston, Galveston and Pasadena.