Czech firm to develop “virtual meter” as a weapon against unscrupulous taxi drivers


Unscrupulous taxi-drivers have plagued the Czech capital for years, charging unsuspecting tourists outrageous amounts of money, taking passengers via the longest possible routes and refusing to produce receipts. Now a Czech firm has offered Prague City Hall a mobile phone application that could help curb the practice. Ondřej Čihař of Et netera explains how the “virtual meter” would work.

“Once the passenger gets in the cab he can put the fare rate into the application which uses the satellite navigation technology inside the telephone. As the cab starts moving the application will automatically start calculating the fare.”

And the shortest distance to get to the desired destination?

“That’s right. Exactly. So when the cab gets to its destination the passenger stops the application and it will show him the final amount he should be asked to pay. That’s why we have offered this application to Prague City Hall - if the passenger finds that he is being asked to pay a lot more, then he could report that driver to someone who is in a position to do something about it. That is why it would be good if City Hall were involved in this.”

So the client would be in a stronger position to complain – even people who don’t know their way around Prague at all?

“Exactly. In your hand you would have proof that you were cheated – and you could do something about it. Not just say to the driver “ well, I think that this is too much”. If you just have a feeling then it is difficult to do something about the problem. This application will give you proof that the taxi driver is cheating.”

How much would it cost to develop this application – what exactly are you offering City Hall?

“Well, we have offered a concept – saying that to develop this application for most smart phones –like IPhones or Nokia, plus support for 4 years, plus a PR campaign for tourists – all that would come up to around two million Czech crowns.”

And how was that offer received?

“It was received as something that is interesting and they said they would think about it. Actually, they have had this concept on their desk for a couple of months. Now news of it has been made public and we are looking forward to hearing whether they want it or not. Because if they do not want it, we will develop it for ourselves and offer it on the market.”

With the aid of Prague City Hall or a private sponsor, it should take two months to develop the application and downloading it would be free of charge.