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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

London travel safety campaign could be expanded.

13 December, 2007
London's innovative ÃâÅ"Cabwise" scheme for safely locating your nearest taxi has potential for much wider use to keep revellers safer and drunk drivers off the streets.
They're an easy target for moaners and its true to say they have some failings but I've always been a fan of Transport for London and their innovative approaches to ferrying hordes of residents and tourists around Britain's capital as smoothly and efficiently as possible. With Christmas on its way and late night parties becoming more frequent, safety has been the latest focus for TFL who have come up with a scheme called Cabwise which is a simple and effective use of mobile technology that enables stranded revellers to locate an official taxi within easy reach.

Taxi crime has been on the increase, largely due to the use of unofficial cabs whose drivers sometimes cause harm to their passengers, both male and female. These unofficial operators prefer to work late at night in areas where finding public transport is more difficult and travellers are more desperate to find some way of getting home, a time when common sense doesn't always prevail.

TFL's cabwise scheme allows anyone with a mobile phone to send the word "Home" by SMS to 60835. The operator detects the area the text has been sent from and then dispatches a response with the numbers of black cabs and mini-cabs in that area. The service costs 35 pence which is a fraction of the taxi charge and enables the scheme to be self funding with enough subscribers.

The thing I like most about this service is its scalability and there are many areas where taxi availability late at night is patchy and thus difficult. Indeed, in America there are whole communities that aren't served by taxis which you can hail at all. Providing people with a well-publicised SMS taxi location service linked to the location the message is sent from can reduce not only the incidences of passenger assaults in unofficial taxis, but could also reduce the levels of drink driving by people who drive to pubs, cafes and parties because of their fear of not being able to get back home.
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