If you listen closely, you might hear the sound of 1,500 Dallas-area taxis driving into the 21st century. On August 6, Taxi Magic officially rebranded as Curb, a new-and-improved app to help you find a ride, track your driver and pay for it all.
If the Curb née Taxi Magic model sounds familiar, that's because it is. Uber and Lyft, the controversial ride-share companies that have Dallas City Hall in a tizzy, do practically the same thing, but with little to no regulation. To remedy that, city officials hope to vote on a new transportation-for-hire ordinance in the fall.
Newly minted Curb CEO Pat Lashinsky says the regulations by which his company already abides give customers added protection, and the new business model allows more choice than ever. Whereas Taxi Magic dealt only with cab companies, Curb will partner with black car and livery services as well to provide a wider range of driving services while still complying with existing city code for transportation companies.
Curb won't use surge pricing like Uber and Lyft. "You are going to pay the same price no matter what time you need a ride," says CEO Pat Lashinsky.
"The last 18 to 24 months have been a really interesting time in our industry. Through our research, we've found that the lack of control and lack of safety with rideshare companies is a big issue for a lot of people," Lashinsky says. "All of our drivers are commercially licensed and undergo full background checks."
Representatives for Uber and Lyft did not immediately return requests for comment on this story.
Curb will work with major cab companies in Dallas, including Freedom Cab, Jet Taxi and industry behemoth Yellow Cab — Uber's not-so-secret nemesis. "Seventy percent of Dallas cabs will be using Curb," Lashinsky says. The company is still in negotiations with other transportation companies for black car services.
Lashinsky is quick to point out that Curb won't use surge pricing like Uber and Lyft, which both raise rates as demand for rides increases. "With Curb, you know you are going to pay the same price no matter what time you need a ride," Lashinsky says.
The catch? Hailing a cab in Dallas just got a little bit more challenging. Although cab drivers were previously free to pick up whistling riders, those that do so while en route to a previously scheduled Curb client will be locked out of the app for five hours.
It's a blow to the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants traveler, but one that's unlikely to cause any real change in the local transportation landscape. It was already extremely rare to hail a cab in the mean streets of Dallas.
"It's more efficient for the passengers and for the drivers," Lashinsky says. "Besides, rideshare companies can't pick up hails anyway."
In addition to Dallas, Curb is also introducing the app in Chicago, Portland, Denver and D.C. this year. It plans to eventually roll it out in all 60 cities where the company operates.