GETTING out and about in London is fairly simple. The capital has a fully integrated public transport system; and, when the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) opens in December 2018, getting around central areas will be even quicker. But, despite this, there are times when a taxi is more appropriate. The Gett app — which is available in 25 UK cities — is the perfect traffic companion.
In London, the Gett app links you up with the city’s black cabs — as familiar an international icon of London as the red Routemaster hop-on-hop-off bus. And I can’t see how the makers could make it simpler or easier to use. Once you download the app, you register your details and, if you like, your credit-card details. This allows you to pay for your taxi rides through the app, but it is optional: you can pay for your taxis in the usual way.
Then, you tell the app where you want to go and confirm where you are — it uses GPS technology to identify your location. Within seconds, it provides you with a fixed-price quote and provides you with details of available taxis near by, which can take you there. You select the taxi, and, before you know it, it is on its way.
I first tried using the app on a journey from a hotel in Kings Cross to Lambeth Palace. I left my room and started to input the details of my journey. In the lift, I selected a taxi. And, as I left the hotel lobby, my taxi was pulling into the hotel’s pick-up area. I knew it was my cab because the app provided me with the cab’s registration number and a photo of the driver: no more trying to get into a cab at a hotel only to discover that it had been booked for another passenger.
Assuming this speed to be a one-off, I tried the app on my return, too. This time, I waited until I had left Lambeth Palace before using the app. Standing on the forecourt area near Lambeth Palace Gardens, I asked for a taxi back to my hotel. It offered me a cab that was just one minute away. I selected it, and the app gave me with a real-time graphic, overlaid on a local-area map, that showed where my taxi was
The app uses GPS to track the taxis, as well as identify where the passengers are. The app said that the taxi was on Lambeth Bridge, and, sure enough, there it was. And it arrived within the minute that the app predicted: using GPS, the app has real-time traffic information.
What is the premium for using Gett? There isn’t one. The taxis run using their meters, but the price you pay is the price quoted on the app. Each time I have used Gett, the app has charged less than the meter price. Since I have provided my card details, the payment is taken automatically on arrival, and the receipt is emailed to me — a proper receipt rather than a piece of dateless paper with a price but no journey details.
Gett is available in the US, Russia, and Israel. Here, the 25 cities include Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds, and Coventry, as well as London, where almost half the city’s black cabs are signed up. It is available for iOS and Android. Users can earn free rides by referring the app to others.