Harvard Students Support SaferTaxi iPhone App

Five Harvard undergraduates are helping SaferTaxi, a start-up that aims to improve the safety and comfort of taxi rides, launch a free iPhone application for use in the Boston area starting next week.

Founded in 2009 by Wharton student Christian Lechner and second-year Harvard Business School students Clemens H.V. Raemy and Jesus Fernandez, SaferTaxi currently allows users in London and Buenos Aires to submit and access reviews of taxi drivers through a text message-based system.

The iPhone app will allow users to search for reviews of taxi drivers, send text message or e-mail alerts in cases of emergency, and rate their own experiences.

“We encourage people to sign up early and really contribute to the database,” Raemy said. “Every person can help other people within their city. If it’s a bad review or a good review, it doesn’t matter.”

Harvard College Consulting Group members Regan Bozman ’13, Molly L. Yang ’13, Kerry V. Hammond ’14, Brandon Liu ’14, and Natalie C. Sandman ’12 began working with the founders this semester to bring SaferTaxi to college campuses in the Boston area. The undergraduates have contacted area taxi companies to inform them of this new service.

After hailing a cab, a rider can enter the taxi license plate number to receive instant feedback about the driver. A rider can also enable the DoubleSafety feature, which informs an emergency contact if arrival is not confirmed. The application will remind the user to record experiences after each use.

Raemy and his co-founders set out to develop SaferTaxi after what they describe as a dangerous taxi experience in Buenos Aires.But the service could be useful in Boston as well, he said.

“The biggest complaints are that credit card machines aren’t working, drivers are consistently on the phone, and taxis are in really bad condition,” Raemy said, adding that they have come across reports of verbal abuse and sexual advances from drivers in the Boston area in their research.

“As a college woman, in my early 20s, I don’t always feel safe getting into a taxi,” Sandman said. “I think this service provides accountability for the driver, and...it can make the community a better place.”

An Android application for SaferTaxi will be available within the next few months, and students can sign up to receive updates about product development at www.us.safertaxi.com.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: November 3, 2010

An earlier version of the Nov. 3 news article "Harvard Students Support SaferTaxi iPhone App" incorrectly attributed a quote to Regan Bozman '13.

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