“Mi Taxi”: Innovation and Technology to Boost Trust in Mexico City Public Taxi Service
Mi Taxi, My Cab, part of Mexico City’s App, was created to boost trust in the public cab network by making the service safer. It provides information about the drivers and the cabs' public concessions. Users can rate the trip and activate a panic button connected to the City’s Intelligence Agency, C5.
Negative perceptions of safety among the public lead the Government to grasp the situation faced by drivers and users, particularly women, and thus developed the initial phase of the app, focused on safety
In the last few years, the perception of insecurity in public transportation increased. Many people opted for private mobility services through applications. This diminished the demand for the public cab services and affected taxi drivers’ economy. To set the basis for a fairer competition, the new administration of Mexico City’s Government implemented a series of bureaucratic and technological innovations. Mi Taxi [My Cab] is one of them.
Mi Taxi is one of the multiple services inside Mexico City’s App (called “App CDMX”). This app concentrates services such as “Sendero Seguro” (Safe Trail) and “MI C911e” that send users' location to the intelligence and police authorities when they are in danger, or “Mi Policía” which contacts the nearest police officer in case of emergency.
Mi Taxi was created to rebuild trust in the public cab service. It provides information about the drivers, like their picture, name, vehicle plates and concession. This information can be used to corroborate the plate number and the driver's appearance. Until now, there have been 7,993 drivers registered on the app, at least one time. In total, the plates have been registered 69,923 times.
The app has a panic button included for emergencies. This button is connected to the City’s Intelligence Agency (C5), that makes a report to all the emergency services, providing them with the real-time location of the cab and the plate number to be targeted and intercepted. Cab users and drivers can use the app through their own profiles and access the panic button if they feel the need to use it.
Both users and drivers can send their location in real-time to trusted contacts (share their trips) and the app uses very little data, considering that most persons in Mexico City do not have unlimited data plans for their cellphones. Also, the app allows the users to rate the trip and help other users to have information about the quality of the drivers' service.
For the application to be successfully used, drivers have to register their matching personal and vehicle data. This information is easily registered through the portal “Mi Unidad” [My Unit]. Until now, 70,216 drivers are registered.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
It is the first time that an app is developed by the government of Mexico City to be used, for free, by cab drivers and passengers to have information, to hail a ride as well as to share and rate trips.
Another innovation is the way to directly connect with authorities, through a panic button; even private service apps want to have access to the same service.
The app was developed based on focus groups and multiple talks with a variety of cab drivers, users (women, particularly) and multiple interactions between the Mobility Department and the Digital Agency for Public Innovation.
For Mi Taxi to work, the City created “Mi Unidad”, a system to register every cab driver with the cab plates they drive, a database that did not exist before 2019.
What is the current status of your innovation?
The innovation is in the implementation phase. Not all the drivers are registered in “Mi unidad” yet, but the government is disseminating information and nudging drivers to register as well as getting more people to download the app and actually use it during their trips.
Mi Taxi is also developing a ride-hailing system so that users can get a cab through the app and it can pick them up. The administration is evaluating to expand the capabilities of the app by adding an electronic payment options to minimise the use of cash in transactions, which is safer and more convenient for drivers and users alike.
Collaborations & Partnerships
This project was developed though the Public Innovation Digital Agency (ADIP), meaning the program did not require the investment of any further public resources.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The innovation aims to improve safety of cab users, particularly women, since it provides clear information about drivers and the cars themselves, through the initial information and through the rating system. Also, it allows users to share their trips with their close ones and activate the panic button for safety reasons
These security services are also available for drivers
Creates a fairer context for Mexico’s City taxi drivers to compete, through better quality services, with private apps
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Up until now, there have been 7,993 drivers registered on the app at least one time. In total, the plates have been registered 69,923 times. The number of successful trips made with the app is 21,727. And the app has been downloaded more than 170,000 times.
Challenges and Failures
One of the biggest challenges is to voluntarily bring all the cab owners to start the registration process that will provide the information about who drives which cars. The process is very easy and, little by little, all the cab drivers become part of the database.
Conditions for Success
In order to make this project successful, it is necessary that all taxi drivers register their information. Also, city residents have to be nudged to use the app so as to make it attractive for more drivers. Another important element is that all the emergency services respond immediately to the calls for help.
This project has not been replicated yet. But it might be a good example for other cities to rescue their taxi system and help the drivers to improve their economic situation. It is a way to dignify the job and make it trustworthy for everybody. An important element is the panic button, which is the main reason for a passenger to use the app, increasing trips' overall safety.
It is important to understand users and drivers to get a solution that helps and fits everyone. By doing focus groups, primary needs were identified: The drivers had the need to obtain credibility from users and the users had the need to feel safe during their trip.This is why the innovation has to involve solutions for those two problems.
Mostly, both problems were solved with the panic button and the possibility to share the trips in real time: users have a tool to use when they don’t feel safe because they can press a button and authorities will come to help share their location with their close ones to make their location known. This also gives the drivers the credibility that they need, because if the users feel safe, they trust the app and the driver.
Another lesson is the importance of having in-house capabilities to develop, in record time, technological tools such as App CDMX and databases such as Mi Unidad, solving public issues without wasting any public resources.