Call Me A Cab

London is testing the world's first hail-a-cab-with-your-cellphone service. Is it any match for sticking out your hand?

6 p.m. Monday. The whole of London and I are desperate to get to the pub. In an attempt to outwit them, I try Zingo, the new London-based service that says they can find you a cab in record time using cellphone and GPS technology.

After 5 minutes on hold (and several empty cabs), I’m connected to the operator. She can’t retrieve my location automatically since the service only functions directly with three cellphone networks, none of which I’m on. But I tell her my
location and she connects me to the nearest Zingo-enabled driver, who arrives in about 7 minutes. Final tally: 15 minutes and 12 missed cabs (to be fair, best results would come from a Zingo-compatible phone).

Four pints later, I give Zingo another go. I still have to wait for an operator, but after being connected, the driver comes to my location in about 3 minutes.

The verdict? Until more cabs are GPS-enabled and other cell networks sign on, Zingo isn’t worth the £1.60 (about $2.50) service fee. But for Friday nights when a 20-minute cab wait is standard, it could definitely come in handy.