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HopIN Taxi makes getting a ride easy

App-based taxi service lets the customer chose a taxi using several criteria

Prague has a bad reputation when it comes to taxis. Mayors have long made cleaning up the sector a priority, with one even going undercover as an Italian tourist. But despite requirements such as licenses and meters, problems still persist.

One way to avoid many of the problems is by ordering a taxi through a smartphone or tablet application, where all the details of the ride such as the driver and the length will be recorded. Taxi firm HopIN, which launched in 2012 in Slovakia, is now almost a year in Prague as well and is set to expand to other cities and eventually other countries in Europe.

What makes the HopIN app different from other application-based services is that the price of rides does not fluctuate based on demand. Also, there is no charge for canceling a ride. The app includes a price calculator to give an estimate of the final price. It is also a taxi service, not a ride service. HopIN uses a limited number of drivers in labeled vehicles.

And you can use the app without having to register with a credit card. Using the app is easy. There are three steps: confirming your location, selecting a taxi and ordering a taxi.

Currently, there are 300 drivers in Prague and Ostrava together. “We try to examine each and every driver, but the best feedback we have is from the customers themselves. As soon as we discover any problem, the cooperation with the driver after one or two warnings is stopped,” said Martin Baran, head of the HopIN company.

To be convenient, drivers can take cash or passengers can pay with a credit card through the app. Companies can also have corporate accounts so employees can call a cab without having to worry about paying each time, as the billing is done to the company.

In the Czech Republic, it is up to the individual drivers if they will take euros or not, as it is not the official currency.

Filters on the app let customers pick what kind of car they need, for example, one that can handle a lot of packages if you are shopping. “If you go to the theater, you can choose a limo and we will only search for a limousine,” Baran said.

Cars not matching your filters will show up as ghosts on your screen, so if nothing nearby matches your request or you simply want a closer car, you can change the filter settings. You can also order a specific taxi by clicking on its icon on the screen of the app.

Other search parameters include the driver's language, price, ranking and popularity.

Currently, cars can only be ordered when they are needed, but soon it will be possible to order one in advance.

Since GPS is sometimes a bit inaccurate, the app also lets you change your GPS position two ways: by entering the address and by moving an icon on the screen.

The destination can also be set several ways: manually by typing it in, by tapping on the icon or by selecting from a list of favorite destinations.

The app will notify you when the driver has arrived, so you will know if you are not in the place that the driver expected.

Creating your own profile on the app is not necessary if you want to pay cash, but if you register you can create your own profile and save your favorite destinations and settings. Registered users can also use cashless payment, with the cost of each ride debited from your payment card.

The app, available in several platforms, also stores all the information about your trips so you can see which cars you used in the past.

HopIN has had a large success in Bratislava, where it went from 100 orders a month in 2012 to 1,500 a day three years later. 

HOPINTaxi / by Raymond Johnston, Prague 15.08.2016

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