Refining the Taxi Calculator and Booking System
It seems we’re coming to that awkward stage in development where a whole bunch of little things are popping up that seem important but, unless we’re careful, would over complicate the system….
It’s important that we step back and take a look at our overall goal: To provide a simple means of estimating cab fare prices. And this means not getting bogged down with every little detail of the price calculation. If we did, the cab company interface would become so bloated and complicated it would be too difficult to use.
Recent refinement of the Zones feature has already added a degree of complexity to the system (our current conclusion being to allow users to decide how zone pricing was implemented). However, some interesting points have been raise in the Taximap forum and through feedback emailed by cab companies testing the system….
Holidays & Sundays
Whilst the system does account for PEAK HOURS, there are no day or date variables configurable in the system. This means that a taxi on Christmas Day could cost the same as a trip on an average Monday. This is clearly inappropriate so we are planning to implement some means of identifying dates and days to be priced differently. Whether this turns out to be an extension of the Peak Hours feature or an independent setting is open for debate – again probably via the forum.
With this in mind it becomes obvious that some sort of interface that allows definition of peak hours is completely missing from the system at the moment, so this will be next on the agenda…
Another (minor – in our view) feature missing from the taxi booking system is the application of the lead time setting. This will allow cab companies to determine how much time they should allow before a booking can be made. Currently, the booking system uses a fixed 24 hours, but it needs to use the value defined by the taxi company in the member’s area.
We will also be looking at what happens in cases where the booking is required sooner than the lead time permits. Perhaps we can put a phone call through or send an SMS (see below)?
The booking process touches on payment methods and this is still an area where we have not come to any definitive conclusion. Currently the system only permits payment in cash, but we had thought we would be able to process credit cards on behalf of cab companies – although this may have to come further down the track.
It has also occurred to us that not all cab companies will want to use our booking system, preferring their own or not to offer booking at all. Therefore, we think we will make the booking system optional and controlled via a setting in the member profile section.
This, again, will require some logic in the calculator that determines what message is shown at the end of the far calculation process.
We strongly believe the integration of an SMS text messaging interface in to the system would be a big benefit to taxi companies using the system – enabling them to respond quickly to bookings, for example – but the cost implications of this may be prohibitive and/or effect our pricing model.
Ahh – the holy grail… Our intention has always been to provide Taximap as an iPhone/SmartPhone application allowing quick access to aggregate Taximap data and leveraging modern phone GPS systems…. I guess the website comes first, but we hope to start development of this shortly. It -kind of- relies on a critical mass of users in the system and we’re almost there!
Our To Do list contains 101 other little features and, I think, we need to draw a line under this first release and schedule these enhancements for future releases. We have received a great deal of positive feedback about the system as it is and, provided users take it for what it is and understand what it isn’t (e.g. an estimation system, not a precise pricing system), we believe the system will be a great advantage to minicab companies and end users alike.
How YOU can help
We really value feedback from both users and cab companies. The Taximap forum provides an open discussion area for everyone to get involved, or you can leave a comment here in our blog. We encourage all taxi and minicab companies, chauffeur and limousine services, courier and delivery drivers, minibus and coach services, in fact anyone with a valid application of the system to sign up to Taximap.