Hailo expands cab hailing app to Cambridge

Vanessa Kafka, general manager of Hailo Boston, is helping the company expand to Cambridge.
Vanessa Kafka, general manager of Hailo Boston, is helping the company expand to Cambridge.
Wendy Maeda/Globe File

Hailo, maker of a mobile application for summoning taxis and paying fares, said Thursday it is expanding to Cambridge one year after launching in Boston.

The London company has signed up about 100 cab drivers on the north side of the Charles—roughly one-fifth of the Cambridge taxi fleet—and hopes to duplicate the growth of its first year in Boston. One in three Hub cabbies is now a Hailo partner.

Smartphone users can download the free Hailo app and use it to book a taxi without standing on a curb. The app tracks the location of the cab assigned to pickup, so you know exactly when to meet it, and enables instant electronic payment. Hailo charges riders a $0.99 booking fee on most fares and $1.99 during peak hours.

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The service helps passengers get rides when they need them and helps drivers stay busy and make more money, said Vanessa Kafka, general manager of Hailo Boston.

“Even with dispatching and drivers doing street work, taxis are still empty a lot of the time,” she said. “The driver might be two blocks away from a passenger who needs a cab but they don’t connect—don’t make eye contact, the passenger is outside at the wrong time. They could have connected with Hailo.”

The Hailo app also enables cab drivers to accept credit card payments, something not all cabbies in Cambridge can do right now because credit card machines are not standard in their vehicles.

Hailo works only with licensed cab drivers, which the company says makes its service safer than some competitors’, but does not require cabbies to become exclusive partners. A driver might use both Hailo and Uber, for instance.

During Hailo’s first week in Cambridge, new users can get their first $15 worth of fares for free using the promotional code “Cambridge,” the company said.