Richmond taxis launch app to compete with Uber, Lyft

Published: Apr. 22, 2015 at 3:10 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 22, 2015 at 5:41 PM EDT
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Some Richmond-area taxi companies are fighting Uber and Lyft with an app of their own.

Uber and Lyft have been cutting into the taxicab business, but the cab companies say their new free app, N-Route, has some advantages.

"It connects consumers with the closest available taxis," explained N-Route President Chris Brevard. "It's a way to get licensed transportation, but not have to sort through the phone book and call company to company."

Napoleon Taxi launched N-Route, but other cab companies participate, too. While Uber's or Lyft contract with people to drive their cars as taxis, N-Route hails actual taxi cabs driven by taxi drivers.

All of our drivers have to be screened and are permitted through local police departments, Richmond City, Henrico, Chesterfield County,"
explained Brevard. "All the cars are inspected throughout the year ."

Another difference Brevard argues is that Uber and Lyft only take credit cards, while N-Route takes cards and cash. Ride-sharing rates are often cheaper than taxis', but Brevard says N-Route won't increase rates like Uber and Lyft do during some peak demand hours.

N-Route "automatically pinpoints your current GPS location, but you can move that if you want set up a cab at your buddy's house," according to Brevard. You enter the address where you want to go. The app shows you the nearest available cabs. Order one and it sends you the driver's name and rate. 

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - "You can message the driver," said Brevard. "It will go directly to him, or you can call him, and it will dial his phone number."

Then the cab arrives at your door. N-Route is also placing kiosks on bar walls, including Buddy's Place in the Fan, for patrons without phones.

"It was used quite a bit over this past weekend," said Buddy's owner Marian Dealto. "Anything we can do to make sure people get home safely, if they don't choose to drive, we'd like to offer it."

Brevard hopes N-Route will help prevent drunk driving and keep the local taxi industry competitive in the fast lane.

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