Hailo to add hackney drivers countrywide to fleet

Move comes following transport firm’s expansion from Dublin to Ireland’s big towns

Transport firm Hailo is to increase the coverage of its service in Ireland by signing up hackney drivers throughout the country.

The move comes following the service’s expansion from Dublin to Ireland’s major towns, starting with Cork, Galway and Limerick just over two years ago. Ireland was set to be the testbed as the first Hailo territory to offer countrywide coverage.

"Our goal is to have the same great Hailo services all over Ireland. That's difficult to do in areas where there are none or very few taxi vehicles," said Tim Arnold, general manager of Hailo Ireland.

“This will allow us to bring the Hailo network to drivers in smaller towns and improve the industry for both drivers and passengers alike.”


Mr Arnold said the move to take hackney vehicles into the fleet was a natural step, as it means the inclusion of vehicles that provided a vital service in less urban areas. He cited Tipperary, for example, which had a taxi fleet made up mostly of hackney vehicles.

Hailo already has a database of drivers who have requested access to the service, which gives the company a good starting point. Drivers are fully licensed and subject to the same checks as taxi drivers.

It’s a change in tactic from Hailo’s London service, which ended its involvement with hackney cabs a few weeks ago.

Eighteen months ago Hailo decided to move into private hire vehicles in London, but on October 1st, the company reversed that decision.

“There’s a slightly different structure to the market; the traditional licence taxis, the black cabs, and then on the other side you have vehicles called private hire. There are two different regulatory structures that map against each of the two sections,” explained Hailo chief executive Andrew Pinnington.

Hailo is also offering taxi drivers who have not signed up with the service the opportunity to take card payments, without having to pay a cent to the company. HailoPay allows customers to pay by credit card, even if the driver is not signed up as a Hailo taxi. Payments are made through the HailoPay.com web browser by customers, and as long as the driver has the free Hailo driver app, they can accept payment.

“The percentage of journeys done by people who have registered their credit card with us as opposed to paying by cash is going up and up. In London, it’s now 87 per cent of the journeys,” said Mr Pinnington.

Extra charges

Hailo takes a percentage commission of each fare booked through its platform, but it will offer drivers the chance to process card payments free of charge, with no extra charges for passengers either.

Mr Pinnington said there were some benefits for the company in offering the service free of charge, using it as a driver engagement tool and also a way to reach potential Hailo customers. There are also plans to reward customers for bringing new drivers to Hailo.

“It’s a calculated investment,” he said.

Mr Arnold said it was no coincidence that the the new services were being rolled out in time for Christmas, when people may be leaving cities to return home for the holidays.

Hailo was launched in Ireland in 2011, following a successful debut in London. Since its launch here, it had added the ability to prebook its taxis for trips to the airport, for example, executive cars, and a Hailo for business option.

The company has used Ireland as a test location for some of its new services.

“It’s a very powerful and key part of our overall business,” said Mr Pinnington. “We would see Ireland as very much the place we’d like to test things because often it has the quickest receptiveness here to new ideas. We get to really understand if they’re working or not in the quickest fashion.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist