There are two ways to face a pandemic as a business. One, you can panic and make rash decisions out of fear, or two, you can meet the challenge head on and become a leader and shining example to the community. For Waterloo Taxi, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how resiliency and innovation can turn a seemingly negative situation into a very positive business story. And according to company co-owner and spokesperson Tony Rodrigues, that story wouldn’t be possible without the support of the people of the Waterloo Region.
“We first and foremost want to give a big thanks to our community for supporting us and keeping our wheels turning during the pandemic,” said Rodrigues. “As things begin to improve and our community continues to move towards a better path, we will continue to be there for them.”
From the onset of the pandemic, Waterloo Taxi actively sought out ways to be a positive force in the community. For starters, the company offered free transportation to seniors hoping to take advantage of early grocery shopping opportunities. Next, they provided discounted rates to vaccination clinics for people without personal transportation. The company continued to offer support to community initiatives, such as providing free rides to donors attending the Drive for Life blood donor clinics. Finally, they encouraged riders to take advantage of discount taxi service prices through the company’s LOKAL app.
“Our app rate continues to remain 15 percent lower and present the most affordable option in the community to help in the growth and recovery, said Rodrigues. “As well, it will make it more affordable for those heading back to work or are going out to support our local businesses.”
The company reacted quickly to the pandemic, installing dividers in each vehicle to decrease risks and improve safety for both drivers and passengers. Although they didn’t see a significant rise in ridership during the height of the pandemic as people avoided public transport, Rodrigues says Waterloo Taxi received many comments from customers thanking them for providing an option to riding the bus during such uncertain times.
Now that restrictions are easing and people are looking forward with cautious optimism, Rodrigues says that Waterloo Taxi has resumed their signature airport shuttle service. This service provides door to door rides to and from Pearson, Hamilton and London airports for an all-in affordable rate. The company is also busy implementing two new app features that should once again position them as the leading public transportation option in the K/W area.
“Our first new option available through the Lokal app is a feature called Parent Tracker,” he said. “A parent can download the app onto a child’s cellphone and connect it to a credit card. Once the child books the ride, the parent will receive alerts as to time of ride, pickup and destination, cost and route. It’s helpful for both child and parent, because it offers peace of mind and transparency for the parent and independence for the child. It’s really a wonderful feature.”
The second feature, coming soon through the Lokal app, is a ride-sharing feature which allows multiple customers to share the ride while enjoying the discounted rate. Once the ride is over the app will automatically split the fare, provided that all customers have the app downloaded and a valid credit card registered. It’s a seamless integration of technology that makes sharing a cab ride more affordable and easier to manage.
“Let's not forget our most popular feature, our "upfront flat rate price," said Rodrigues. “This feature allows the customer to lock in the estimated rate which will not change regardless of driving conditions.
With regard to our business, we continue to work to make Lokal even more inclusive and diverse. If you're old school and you want to pick up the phone to book a ride, we’re there for you. If you want to use current technology and hail a ride over the Lokal app, we’re there as well.”
Moving forward Rodrigues said Waterloo Taxi will continue to create a more seamless user experience within Lokal and will continue to work diligently to bring more innovative services to the local community. Rodrigues says this will put the company on a different level in terms of service capabilities.
“Stay tuned, there’s more innovation and services coming,”