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Chicago's universal taxi app is coming next month

Zach Long

While ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft continue to make it more convenient (and affordable) to hitch a ride in Chicago, the city is attempting to make hailing a taxi a simpler process. Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the city has selected Arro and Verifone as the city's universal taxi app providers. Each app will allow users to hail a taxi using a smartphone, request a fare quote and make secure payments for their rides.

Beginning on February 1, Chicago's nearly 12,700 licensed taxi drivers will be required to use either the Arro or Verifone apps while on duty in the city. Both the Arro app and Verifone's Curb app are available for download in the Apple App Store or via Google Play. The Arro e-hailing and payment app launched in New York City last fall, while Verifone's Curb app is already being used by more than 4,000 taxis in Chicago, according to Verifone Taxi Systems spokesperson Sanders Partee.

While it's unclear why the city decided to select two different apps, the configuration will allow customers and taxi drivers to choose the app they're most comfortable with. It seems likely that drivers and customers will eventually gravitate toward a single app, depending upon which platform is more widely used.

The introduction of the universal apps will certainly make it more convenient to hail a cab in the city, but Chicago's taxi drivers still aren't competing with prices offered by Uber and Lyft. Emanuel’s 2016 budget included a 15 percent fare increase for taxi drivers that took effect on January 1. According to a release from the city, "This change will boost average taxi driver income by $4,000 to $10,000 annually."

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