illski_avlride_2014Asheville entrepreneurs Demetris Jones and LeSaunta Wilson are set to launch a new smart phone app and accompanying phone number in hopes of making it easier for residents and tourists to get around Asheville. The two hope to bring local taxi companies and for-hire drivers under the umbrella of their association just as national ride-sharing companies enter the Asheville market.

Jones (better known by his nickname Illski) and Wilson plan to launch cabhoundasheville.com on Aug. 1. The smart phone app was developed by George Wheeler of AppEdgy. Wheeler lives in Waynesville and has been working with Jones and Wilson to get his Cabhound app ready to go for Asheville, according to Jones and Wilson.

In addition to the smart phone app, Jones and Wilson also plan to launch a new phone number for anyone seeking a ride in Asheville. The 1-844-AVLRIDE phone number will allow anyone without a smart phone easy access to the same service.

“Our vision is to have everyone in the system. This puts everyone in a nice flowing system, and it prevents outside companies like Uber from coming in and taking over the taxi market,” Jones says.illski_avlride_2_2014

In Asheville, there are taxi companies that meter rides and charge $2.50 a mile and for-hire drivers that charge flat fees. (Those rates won’t change under the new system, Jones says.) The drivers are licensed through the city of Asheville and they are required to carry the state minimum insurance coverage. In Asheville, for-hire drivers are technically not supposed to pick up a rider who flag them down, but on busy downtown nights, that rule often goes by the wayside.

Both Jones and Wilson are for-hire drivers. Jones is the owner of Illski Transports, while Wilson owns 1st Class Executive Transportation.

Jones and Wilson said they’re in talks with the following transportation companies about joining the Cabhound Asheville/844-AVLRIDE alliance: Bar buddies, WNC Transit, AreaWide, A Weaverville Cab, Davis Transportation, and People’s Transportation. They plan to talk with every cab company in town about joining, the two say. (There’s a fee to join.)illski_avlride_4_2014

Jones and Wilson want to take the hassle out of taking a taxi as national ride-sharing services enter the Asheville market. One of the most well-known companies, Uber, is preparing to launch, although the company admits that it operates in a legal grey area when it comes to meeting municipal rules regarding taxis.

“If taxi companies don’t change, it’s going to be hard for them to compete,” Jones says.

The Cabhound Asheville app will allow a person needing a ride to call in and request a certain type of vehicle (and even a specific driver) with the promise of a pick-up in 15 minutes or less. The app allows riders to rate drivers, and drivers to rate their fares. It also gives smart phone users a flashing yellow light they can use – all they need to do is hold up their phone with the flashing light in a crowd to make it easy for a driver to spot them.

Jones and Wilson want to reach people at key transportation points around Asheville. Their plan is to place tablets in key locations such as bars and hotels that riders can use to access Cabhound Asheville. They also plan to use marketing materials like brochures and stickers featuring the 844-AVLRIDE phone number and a QR code that people can use to download the Cabhound app. The Asheville Regional Airport, the Greyhound bus station and offices for social services are a few other examples of hot spots, the two say.

“Improvement of transportation is the main goal,” Jones says.

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12 Comments

  1. Sandra Dennison says:

    I love the idea and know and know that if AppEdgy helped with this then their is great opportunities for success. I wish you luck and I can’t wait to go for a rid.

  2. Considering the (in my opinion) crappy service and exorbitant rates provided by most of the local Asheville cab companies, competition is good all around here.

  3. Sounds like a great idea. Good luck!

  4. Illski is a great guy and really serves his community. I for one will download and support this app. Taxi service in town can be spotty and I’m looking forward to a local service that is managed from a broader perspective.

  5. We have created a transportation network that connects all taxi’s and car services to one phone number and one app which citizens of Asheville can access. the uber similarities are undeniable and so are the benefits to asheville

  6. Sounds like they reinvented Uber.

    • Actually, it’s pretty clear from the article that they’re trying to patch together a network that allows *existing* cabbies and for-hire drivers to benefit from the access and convenience of an Uber-style system without having to sign on as indentured servants to a large, anonymous corporation or operate in the “legal grey area” Uber occupies. This is not a duplication of Uber, but a direct response to it.

      • Or, stated alternatively,

        ” it prevents outside companies like Uber from coming in and taking over the taxi market,” Jones says”.

        Got it.

        • ashevillain says:

          I don’t think they can prevent Uber from posting up in Asheville unless they’ve somehow rewritten the laws.

          I wish these people the best, but realistically, I don’t think this will even so much as discourage Uber from doing what it wants to do.

  7. Hey. I will drive for u on weekends. I signed up w uber ride.com. But haven’t heard back. I have clean driving CDLS w passenger endorsement and clean 2007 Kia sedona

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