Given the heightened and valid state of alert amongst foreigners in Bogotá with the news of the tragic death of DEA agent James “Terry” Watson during a taxi-jacking near the Park 93, there are ways you can ensure a safe ride in the city if you are willing to take a couple of minutes and download some local “taxi” Apps.
While there will never be a foolproof way of ensuring a safe ride (in any city, or any city in the world for that matter), thanks to mobile technology we can at least reduce the risk when the standard method of dialing in to one of the city’s many licensed cab operators don’t produce a car.
One of the more widely used apps – Tappsi – employs a GPS localization method to find a cab who has Tappsi installed. This is an intelligent way of confirming your cab during congested traffic times; as this city is prone to most of the day. Many cab companies encourage their drivers to install TAPPSI on their dashboards and the application essentially works by receiving your incoming data from a mobile device and confirming a pick up time and address through an email with the driver’s license plate number.
Whether with Android, iPhone or Windows, one cab company TaxisLibres Tel: 3111111 – allows you to register your mobile device with them and through Twitter and/or Facebook, they will send you precise details of your pick up. The App Easy Taxi has also been gaining users across Colombia as it incorporates most of our major cities. You can now tap into this application when getting a cab in Bogotá from work or visiting Cali. Easy Taxi’s smartphone cities include Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Manaus. Best of all, these apps are free to download. www.easytaxi.com.co
On Apple’s iOS system BogoTaxi and MedeTaxi have an App to calculate the price of your ride according to distance and the time it might take. Using detailed GPS maps of the city, the client at any moment can be located once a “panic button” on the App is pressed.
Social media is doing its part in helping taxi users with references regarding the vehicle out there roaming the streets of Bogotá. At the website www.denunciealtaxista.com you are encouraged to enter the license plate number of the cab that turns up and (before stepping in) immediately the digital interface will tell you if the vehicle has been reported by the police. Through their twitter account @denuncietaxista you can also put in a recommendation for a specific driver or track the comments of those who’ve been in the cab before you. With the expansion of social media, @denuncietaxista has close to 41,000 ‘followers.’
One of the lesson’s learned with the taxi situation in Bogotá is to take that extra care, but not let the fear get to you. In any large city there will be crime and those who can take advantage of you inside or outside a cab.
In keeping with the friendliness of Colombians, the vast majority of cabbies are honest and hardworking men and women who cannot afford to have their vehicles implicated in a crime. And one of the positive aspects living in this digital age is that we have instant communication, and our footprint can be traced while heading out on the road.