Smelly Taxi: New App, Developed In Chicago, Warns Users Of Stench-Ridden Cabs
They say that entrepreneurial inspiration can come from just about anywhere, but for 32-year-old Chicago-based smartphone app developer Adam Saffro, inspiration for his latest endeavor came from a perhaps unlikely source: a taxi ride he described as "literally the worst-smelling thing I’ve smelled in my life."
Thus was the impetus for "Smelly Taxi," a Yelp-for-cabs-esque new app Saffro told the Chicago Sun-Times will offer taxi passengers a new opportunity to rate and, perhaps even raise awareness of, some of the most putrid, messy cabs in Chicago and other large U.S. cities -- including, to date, New York, Austin, Los Angeles and Denver -- where it is available.
“It’s free, it’s fun,” Saffro told the Sun-Times. “It gives you something to do in a cab ... If word gets out, it might give (cabdrivers) a little more reason to clean up their act or make their cabs smell better.”
The app, available for free from the iTunes store as of its Aug. 4 launch, allows users to search for taxis, which will, once more users sign up, record their rankings, on a scale of 1 to 5, in three areas: odor, professionalism and cleanliness. The app also allows cab passengers to upload photos from inside the car, documenting its conditions, and provide additional comments to the cabbie on their experience.
According to the app's Facebook page, over 27 cabs have thus far been rated by app users as of last week and, as of Friday, it maintained an untarnished, five-star rating on the iTunes store.
While no American city has ever taken such drastic measures, the new app recalls Beijing's effort to crack down on hygiene-challenged taxi drivers before the 2008 Summer Olympic Games attracted visitors from around the world to their city. In late April of 2007, new citywide regulations approved the two-day banning of cab drivers reported as smelly. Cabbies who spit or smoke, as well as female taxi drivers "who sport big earrings or radical hairstyles" were also banned by the same regulations.