The trials and tribulations of catching a dodgy taxi might soon be at an end, at least in Victoria. The state's independent taxi industry regulator is installing technology in taxis that will allow it to share data on the cabs' performance with the public.
Spotted by iTnews, Victorian Government tender TSC 40045 is for a data warehouse solution that can store and share "real-time or near real time data", as well as the capability for longer-term analysis by the Taxi Services Commission.
Startup taxi competitors like Uber already let you delve into driver data and customer feedback, but the TSC's new online push should help anyone wanting a smooth, clean, safe taxi journey with their decision. It won't really help when you're flagging down a cab from the side of the road, but the information should reveal the best and worst taxi companies' customer service levels.
Information on trip lengths, wait times, shift lengths and fare data will be transmitted directly from taxis to the data centre, with the view to share that data freely with consumers. According to the TSC, the performance data will help inform the public better; it's a welcome change after ex-ACCC chairman Professor Alan Fels' 2012 report on the dismal state of the Victorian taxi industry, which showed that government regulation and an insular industry were impeding customers' choices.
When the tender process is complete and the infrastructure is in place, the data will be released and renewed on at least a monthly basis, but most interesting is the capacity to share and view data in real-time. You could be able to check the database and pick the taxi who has most recently started his or her shift, or find a driver who charges the lowest fares versus the distance travelled per trip; no matter what, having raw data available to help your taxi-choosing decision can't be a bad thing. [iTnews]