High-tech taxi fleet hits Dublin streets

Up to €3.8m worth of technology is to be invested in a new fleet of taxis that will feature a variety of high-tech security features unseen before on Dublin streets.

The fleet of taxies rolling on to Dublin streets by Xpert Digi Taxis will be equipped with in-car CCTV cameras, emergency panic buttons and an integrated global positioning system (GPS). The company’s chief executive Vinny Kearns said the emphasis will be on security and driver safety.

“We want to set new standards for the Irish taxi industry and our No 1 aim is security and peace of mind for both passengers and drivers. There is a definite need for a safe and secure taxi service in this country and Xpert Digi Taxis will provide this service. We carried out a feasibility study for this new concept and we also visited a number of taxi operations in other European countries as part of this research. Xpert Digi Taxis is based on the best practice that we have seen in other countries,” said Kearns.

The company will operate initially in the Dublin area and has 200 taxis on board from today. A nationwide rollout of the service is on the cards and the company expects to have 2,000 taxis on the road within the next three years.

As well as the uniformed drivers, CCTV cameras, panic buttons and GPS systems, the new taxis will feature a chip & PIN credit and laser card terminal.

The in-car CCTV cameras will use Bluetooth technology to interface with an in-car XDA 2i device and images will be stored for 48 hours and may be examined in the case of complaint. The XDA will also be used by the drivers to receive job notifications from the dispatch centre.

It is understood after signing a deal with Conduit the new company will become the first taxi firm in Ireland to have a dedicated call centre. It is understood Conduit will deploy 16 staff to operate the call centre.

Taxis aim to capture imagination

Xpert Digi Taxis, a new taxi company, is spending €300,000 on an integrated marketing campaign aimed at promoting what it describes as a revolutionary new service.

Xpert Digi Taxis, which will launch tomorrow, incorporates a wide variety of high-tech security features, such as in-car cameras, panic buttons and an integrated global positioning system (GPS). Chip-and-pin technology will offer customers the option of paying by credit or laser card. The marketing campaign devised for Xpert Digi Taxis includes radio, print and outdoor advertising, a variety of ambient media and a public relations campaign.

The advertising campaign was devised by AFA O'Meara. It consists of radio advertising, a national print advertising campaign, and an outdoor media campaign that will include six-sheets on 80 bus shelters around Dublin city, as well as advertising on the Dart. A variety of ambient media will also be used. These will include the distribution of 300,000 beer mats to 150 venues around Dublin and posters being put up in washrooms in 200 prominent venues in the city. The PR for the campaign will be done by Dublin company Unique Media.

Vinny Kearns, who is the head of Xpert Digi Taxis and vice-president of the National Taxi Drivers Union, said the marketing campaign was designed to highlight the company's safety features. “We want the public to know that we have high-tech security features, that we are reliable and that we also have chip-and-pin technology meaning that you don't need to have cash on you before you get into a taxi,” he said. “This campaign achieves all of those aims, and I have no doubt that it will capture the imagination of the public at large and encourage them to use Xpert Digi Taxis in future.” Kearns said all Xpert Digi Taxis would be easily identifiable, as they would have the Xpert Digi Taxis logo on the driver and front passenger doors. Drivers will also wear branded uniforms.

Taoiseach speech at launch....

I am delighted to be here this afternoon to launch Xpert Digi Taxis. I would like to begin by congratulating Vinny Kearns on his role in leading this new venture. I know that this company will benefit from his 21 years of experience in the Taxi Trade. During that time, Vinny has contributed to the positive progression of the taxi industry locally, nationally and on the international stage. I am sure that this vast array of experience will enable this company to go from strength to strength.

This new company, which involves an investment of some €4 million, will offer a completely professional service and incorporate a variety of safety features never seen before in the Irish marketplace. I know that in carrying out feasibility studies for this project, Vinny and his colleagues visited a number of taxi operations in other European countries and observed the practices employed by our European colleagues. In using this approach they have developed a modern and customer focussed product, which is based on best international practice.

The aim of the company is to ensure that both passenger and drivers feel safe and secure at all times and that they get to their destination safely. To enable them to do that, Xpert Digi Taxis have equipped their fleet with a number of security features. All taxis in the fleet will be fitted with in-car CCTV cameras. This will ensure complete safety and peace of mind for both passengers and drivers, as images will be stored for 48 hours and will be available for examination in the event of a complaint. Driver safety is further ensured by the installation of a panic button which drivers can press in the event of an emergency. GPS is also a feature of all cars, meaning that the location of each vehicle will be known at all times.

But the benefits offered by this new company extend beyond security considerations. Xpert Digi Taxis will offer a service, which is convenient, and customer friendly. All of the company’s taxis will be fitted with a Chip ‘n Pin Credit and Laser Card payment terminal, representing a new departure for in-car technology in Ireland. The company will also have a low call telephone number, manned by a dedicated call centre, ensuring a speedy and efficient service to all its customers.

Many of the new features of the Xpert Digi Taxi fleet are in keeping with the changes proposed in the ‘Roadmap’ document which was published by the Commissioner for Taxi Regulation earlier this year. Indeed, the benefits which this new service will bring for both drivers and passengers, are in line with the primary focus of the Taxi Regulator- to develop and introduce qualitative improvements for the benefit of

service providers and users alike.

The proposals in the ‘Roadmap’ document provide an exciting opportunity to ensure Ireland enjoys a first class service that meets the highest standards, gives professional recognition to the profession of taxi, hackney and limousine drivers, and enhances the customer experience. As you will know, the ‘Roadmap’ Document proposes fundamental reforms across a broad range of areas to improve the quality of service delivered by Ireland’s taxi, hackney and limousine industry. The reforms include- a mandatory skills development programme and professional accreditation for all drivers, enhanced accessibility for all, improved awareness and availability of information for passengers, a new complaints process, new procedures for vetting driver license applicants, simpler and more transparent fares, enhanced vehicle standards, and better safety and security.

There is no doubt that Xpert Digi Taxi has already addressed and embraced some of these proposed changes. In addition to the improved safety and information features, which I mentioned earlier, Xpert Digi Taxi will also take steps to ensure that each driver will undergo an intensive induction course. All drivers will also have a full background check. These steps will ensure more pleasant and efficient journeys for all customers.

Finally, I would like to end by wishing Vinny and all at Xpert Digi Taxis the very best for the future. I know that the company has great plans for expansion, and that they intend to increase today’s fleet of 200 vehicles to 2000 within three years. I look forward to hearing of your success.

Thank you.


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