GLASGOW - Technical Glitches Put 1.5M Pound Taxi Satellite System Under Fire : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Title: 1.5m pound taxi satellite system under fire

Source: The Scotsman Publication date: 2000-05-08

A "SPY in the sky" satellite system introduced two weeks a go to control Glasgow's 900 black cabs has turned the service into a farce, it was claimed yesterday.

Several drivers from the Glasgow Wide Taxi Owners Association (GTOA) have contacted The Scotsman claiming that the GBP 1.5 million Despatcher Three system introduced by the association is losing them money and customers.

One driver said the new system, which relies on satellite global positioning technology, sent eight cabs to one address at the same time. Another said it fails to take into account the M8 or the River Clyde when directing drivers to jobs, causing delays.

However, a spokesman for the organisation insisted the system was fairer to all drivers -pick-ups are given to the nearest taxi meaning cabbies are not able to chase for work. He said any problems were being caused by technical glitches which would be ironed out over the coming weeks.

When the system was introduced it was dubbed "Big Brother" by drivers because it plots their every move on a central computer which then allocates fares to individual cabs depending on which car is nearest to the customer.

Under the old system, it was up to taxi drivers to punch area codes into a keypad to tell a central computer where they were.

The system has been developed by an Australian-based company, Raywood, and, although it is the first of its kind in Scotland, is used by taxi firms in Sydney and Melbourne as well as Dubai and Milan.

One cabbie said yesterday: "The system is an absolute shambles at the moment and I'm losing money hand over fist. There was one time last week when one of my colleagues turned up for a job and there were seven cabs already there trying to pick up the fare.

"Another time someone was driving over the Kingston Bridge and got called to a fare in Kilmarnock. As well as that sort of confusion we are also being asked to pick up fares which are a long way away because the zones the computer uses are too big. If you're travelling up Byres Road and you get a fare in Anniesland there's got to be something wrong, but if you knock the job back you get penalised by getting knocked off the system for five minutes.

"The other thing is that the computer does not recognise the Clyde, the M8 nor the expressway. You could be on the motorway passing a housing estate when you get a job at the estate, but it could be some distance before you reach the actual turn-off for the estate. You might then have to drive several miles to get to the fare."

Another driver said: "I have waited up to an hour and a half for a fare during times of the day when I would normally be picking up two or three fares. If you're not at a rank you're not getting a job so the working man who wants to chase work is getting nothing."

Terry Devine, the chairman of the GTOA, said the system divided work equally.

He said: "When you switch from one computer system to another you have to expect teething troubles and we have experienced those. Some people are happy with the new system and some people have complained, but on the whole we believe it is the future for taxi companies everywhere."

Mr Devine said one reason some drivers were unhappy was that under the old system they could "chase" jobs which were flagged up on the computer. "Because drivers told the operators where they were, some of them got more jobs by pretending to be close to where the customers were calling in. Now no-one has an advantage. That has to be a fairer system. We are hopeful that by the end of the month things will be running smoothly."


-- (, May 09, 2000

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