Taxi app Karhoo adds second fleet with Prime cabs

Taxi booking app Karhoo, which has already secured an agreement with ComfortDelGro, has added a second fleet of taxis to its platform.

A source close to the British start-up, which aims to launch here early next year, told The Straits Times it had inked a second deal with Prime, the island's smallest operator with over 850 taxis.

The Karhoo app lets commuters pick a cab across companies, based on criteria such as price, time of arrival and type of vehicle. They are given a choice of taxis nearest to them.

Last month, the start-up announced its partnership with taxi giant ComfortDelGro, which has a fleet of over 17,000 cabs, close to 60 per cent of the market.

While taxi apps, such as GrabTaxi and Hailo, work through peer-to-peer matching of cabbies and passengers, Karhoo works by relaying its customers' booking requests to the cab operators' despatch systems.

Asked about the deal with Prime, a spokesman for Karhoo said it "cannot comment on specific deals" but noted that it is in "advance talks" with some of the biggest fleets in the cities it plans to launch in, such as London, New York and Singapore.

Prime also declined to comment on the deal.

An industry observer, who requested anonymity, said Karhoo will now have to work with the cab firms to get its app and the operators' despatch systems integrated.

Costs will also be an issue both parties will have to sort out, he said.

Karhoo is founded by 41-year-old British entrepreneur Daniel Ishag, who has said that the app, as an aggregator, would benefit taxi operators as it would increase booking jobs.

In the past two years, incumbent taxi firms have come under stiff competition from private car hire services such as UberX and GrabCar.

Before it launches in Singapore, however, Karhoo will need to be approved by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Under the Third-Party Taxi Booking Service Providers Act, which was passed in May, apps with more than 20 participating taxis will need to register with the LTA and comply with a regulatory framework.

The LTA said earlier this month that it is evaluating Karhoo's application to operate here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2015, with the headline 'Taxi app Karhoo adds second fleet with Prime cabs'. Subscribe