Contents tagged with ridecommand
TAMPA, FL (January 7, 2014) – EventFest, Inc. and Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla are pleased to introduce Ride Command for the 2014 Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates. The RideCommand app offers upscale car service in seconds.
RideCommand's app allows customers to request either an immediate pickup ("Ride Now") or a scheduled ride in the future ("Ride Later") where upscale car services compete for your business. Users can enter a Tampa pickup location, destination, the number of passengers, type of vehicle and when the service will be needed. RideCommand’s revolutionary bidding technology will summon all the drivers to a fair fight, putting the best one in front of the user. RideCommand’s app is available on both iPhone and Android devices. For more information visit www.RideCommand.com
From now through the 2014 Gasparilla Pirate Fest on January 25th, 2014 customers may use the discount code “GASP” for 10% off of RideCommand’s services. Additionally, they can check out the Official Gasparilla Pirate Fest Facebook page to enter for a chance to win FREE rides for a year!! Visit www.Facebook.com/GasparillaPirateFest to enter.
“We are happy to introduce this new service for our Gasparilla participants and guests to enjoy Tampa’s Gasparilla events responsibly and get home safely” said Darrell Stefany, President of EventFest, Inc.
“People want a convenient way to book a car service that also gives them flexibility when it comes to choices – RideCommand provides that positive experience,” said Alan Stapleton, founder and CEO of RideCommand.
RideCommand allows the customer to choose between Luxury and Economy services for car service. The Luxury option will use luxury sedans and SUVs, such as a Cadillac Escalade or a Mercedes Sedan. The Economy option will use Cab Plus Taxi Services and their Lincoln Town Cars. Either service will arrive to pick you up with safe, comfortable and clean cars with courteous drivers.
The Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest will take place on January 25, 2014. For additional information or to purchase Gasparilla Invasion Brunch, Gasparilla Parade tickets and/or officially licensed Gasparilla merchandise, please log on to www.GasparillaTreasures.com. Tickets can also be ordered over the phone by calling EventFest’s Gasparilla Ticket Reservation Line at (813) 251-8844. A ticket representative will be available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.
Sponsors under agreement as of the date of this release include: Gasparilla Pirate Fest
Title Sponsor: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa
Adams & Reese, LLC; Alley • Clark • Greiwe; Amalie Oil Company; Anheuser Busch, Inc; Buffalo Wild Wings; Carey O’Malley Whitaker & Mueller, P.A.; Catering By the Family; CENTRO Tampa; Chevrolet; The City of Tampa; Clear Channel Radio of Tampa Bay including: WBTP-FM 95.7 The Beat, WFLZ-FM 93.3 FLZ, WFUS-FM US 103.5, WMTX-FM MIX 100.7, 620 WDAE The Sports Animal, 970 WFLA FOX Newsradio; Diageo - Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum; Hadlow Family; Hillsborough County; National Brokerage Services, Inc.; PNC Bank; Professional Insurance Center; Sunset Salsa; The Tampa Bay Buccaneers; The Tampa Tribune; TBO.com; Telemundo Tampa; Turner Family; Visit Tampa Bay, WFLA – TV News Channel 8 and Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla
Tampa’s Gasparilla events, including the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, Gasparilla Pirate Fest and Gasparilla’s Outbound Voyage are marketed, managed and produced annually by EventFest, Inc. of Tampa.
1200 W. Cass Street, Suite 110
Tampa, FL 33606
The inefficiency of the premium private car service industry stunned Alan Stapleton soon after he arrived in Minneapolis for a June 2012 wedding.
The process, says Stapleton, was agony. He made at least seven phone calls, wasted two hours, and, with no method to price shop a simple hotel trip, he was still stuck at the airport. A retired federal government official-turned-entrepreneur, Stapleton decided to do something about it. Says Stapleton: “It struck me that this could be a lot better than it was.”
Stapleton says he spent the plane ride back home, to Baltimore, drawing up ideas “on the proverbial napkin” of how he could improve the private car service industry. The result is RideCommand, an Annapolis, Md.-based mobile app car service firm that made its nationwide debut in Tampa in mid-October.
The Tampa area will be the laboratory for RideCommand’s patent-pending technology that utilizes a reverse bid system, where companies compete for a customer’s business. “I have a model where the consumer is in charge,” says Stapleton, assistant director of the U.S Government Accountability Office at the peak of his Beltway career. “It puts you in charge of your own fleet.”
The RideCommand app and website allows users to virtually make a ride request. That request goes out to car services registered in the RideCommand system. RideCommand, so far, has agreements with about 30 Tampa-area local licensed luxury car services. Most of those are one- or two-vehicle services. Traditional metered taxi companies aren’t part of the RideCommand network.
The companies in the RideCommand system bid on the customer in a reverse auction format where prices go down, not up. The passenger, finally, gets to select the winner among all the bidders. RideCommand takes a commission, up to 12% of the fare, from the firm that wins a bid.
The rationale for the reverse-bid strategy, Stapleton says, is simple: A company with a vehicle on the way back to base without passengers would rather get a low bid, and some revenue, than sit empty. At least that’s what Stapleton hopes will happen. “We don’t know how it will work,” Stapleton says. “It’s never been done before.”
Other challenges loom for RideCommand. The firm, for one, must prove a sustainable need exists for the service that can be duplicated in other markets. “For some people it’s too much technology,” says Stapleton, who invested about $250,000 of his own money into the business.
Another hurdle is regulation. That comes mainly from the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which maintains a $50 minimum fare for all premium car rides, no matter the distance. A premium car is basically a vehicle without meters. The Hillsborough PTC regulates all vehicles for hire, from taxis to tow trucks.
The $50 rule can sink RideCommand if customers balk at the minimum fee. One way RideCommand navigated the rule is a partnership with Tampa-based Cab Plus, which combines luxury sedans with a metered pay system, says owner and CEO Brook Negusei. Cab Plus, the biggest company RideCommand works with, has about 35 vehicles.
So RideCommand users can book a ride on Cab Plus sans the $50 minimum. “We are a luxury cab service,” Negusei says. “We charge a little more than a taxi, but less than a limo.”
The $50 rule nonetheless drove another car service app, San Francisco-based Uber, out of town during the Republican National Convention in August 2012. Uber departed when it deemed the $50 fee unworkable.
Stapleton is confident he can avoid that result. He hopes success in Tampa will catapult the firm to success in other markets, including Miami, Orlando, Baltimore and Philadelphia. “Tampa is a nice place to crawl before you walk,” says Stapleton, “and a nice place to walk before you run.”
The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission is on a possible road to extinction.
That could happen under new legislation proposed by State Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, and State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. The legislators filed a bill Oct. 30 that would put the existence of the PTC up for local referendum. The Hillsborough legislative delegation would have to approve the bill first. Then it would go to Tallahassee, where both chambers and the governor would vote on it. If it passes there, local voters could decide the PTC’s future.
The Florida Legislature created the PTC in 1976. Many large cities have similar commissions, designed to ensure safety in a vehicle for hire.
But in many of those cities, and now in Tampa, transportation commissions have become magnets for anti-competition criticism. The Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice, for example, sued the Hillsborough PTC earlier this year, a case that remains active. The institute contends the commission’s $50 minimum fare rule for non-metered vehicles is an example of “burdensome regulations and restrictions not common in other places.”
The PTC has also faced criticism on other fronts. A previous executive director left under controversy over being paid when he was out sick. And former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White was imprisoned for a bribery scandal that partially involved the PTC and a towing service.
You have probably seen those black sedans or SUVs sitting at the popular transportation areas waiting for a person to request car service. Often, those vehicles’ engines are running to enable the driver to access his or her radio, phone or air conditioning. All of that idle time wastes an enormous amount of gasoline, resulting in dangerous emissions to the air that we all breathe! Smog and air pollution in some cities is a health crisis during the hot summer months when the air often “stagnates”.
By using RideCommand, you can help the environment! Our service can greatly reduce the amount of “downtime” for car service companies. In fact, many companies experience “downtimes” that can exceed 70%.
For example, let’s envision a town car driver who has just dropped off a passenger at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. and is about to return empty to the company headquarters an hour away in Virginia. To avoid returning with an empty car, the driver decides to wait for an hour in hope of picking up another rider. During that hour, the driver is running his engine, polluting the air and wasting gasoline. He gives up after an hour and still returns with an empty car.
Parked just behind that driver is another town car whose driver also just dropped off a passenger at the Verizon Center. Rather than returning empty or idling in his car while waiting for another rider, he decides to try the brand new RideCommand iPhone app. Using this app he searches for all ride requests within a few miles of his location (the driver can select the area to be searched). He finds that there are 4 current ride requests waiting for companies to submit bids and one ride request that has bids submitted.
He clicks on this request that has bids and sees that the rider is a few blocks away and his destination is very near the company location where he would otherwise be returning empty. He decides to submit a bid that is $5 lower than the current bid of $90.
Immediately he is notified that the rider has selected him as the winning bidder and he leaves the Verizon Center to pick up his rider. As he leaves, he tips his hat to the other town car still sitting empty with his engine idling.
So what are the different outcomes for these two drivers? The driver without our iPhone app has wasted an hour burning gasoline, polluted the air unnecessarily and returned empty. The driver using RideCommand’s iPhone app has the clear advantage.
So for your next night on the town or special occasion (wedding, birthday, prom, party), register on RideCommand.com and start helping both the environment and your wallet!
The Eye is always looking to promote innovation and new ways of doing business and providing services. Monday the Eye caught up with just such an entrepreneur, Alan Stapleton, President and Founder of RideCommand, a new way for on demand limo service in Tampa. RideCommand was launched in Tampa first and uses your smartphone or tablet for a fast and easy way to order your on demand limousine ride when you need and when you want it.
Stapleton, who resides in Maryland, was in Tampa for a few days to work with his local team here and promote his business and he graciously gave us his time for an interview. Please check out the RideCommand website for more information and how to download their app to your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Then try out the service with an easy click on your phone or tablet. We wish Stapleton the best and we look forward to catching up again with him and hearing about RideCommand's success.
This is a reminder too that transportation solutions are a hot issue today. The Eye previously wrote a post about the burdensome regulations and ethical challenges of Hillsborough county's Public Transportation Commission aka PTC. We are the only county in the state that has this type of commission and the PTC has a history of inhibiting innovation and entrepreneurs like Stapleton. RideCommand is currently trying to work through some of the issues. Technology will continue to move forward and it's time to get rid of the archaic regulatory inhibitors to new services providing more choices. We all want new businesses here and it's the free markets that should determine whether they are successful and thrive. Now's the time - let's simplify regulations that inhibit new technologies and businesses like RideCommand.
Here in Hillsborough County, we watch our County Commissioners espouse their proposals for economic development. They have tied transportation to economic development and have doled out our tax dollars to bring the big box Bass Pro Shop Sporting Goods store to Hillsborough. They are now proposing subsidies, tax breaks, tax credits to large companies who want to bring their businesses and jobs to Hillsborough like Amazon.
But what about new, innovative companies who also want to bring their business to Hillsborough County but burdensome regulations are keeping them out? We know what happened last year to Uber during the RNC convention. The Tampa Bay Times wrote last year:
While Republican National Convention delegates decry excess governmental regulation, a case study is unfolding outside: a dispute between Hillsborough County regulators and a techie taxi startup in town for the convention.What the company can't offer? Low prices. Hillsborough County regulations set Uber's minimum fare at $50, three times as pricey as the service's minimum fare in New York City, London, Paris or practically anywhere else.
At the Eye, we agree with what Rachel Holt, general manager for Uber's DC operations said,
"There is an important role for regulations, and that's protecting the public … not blocking competition."
Well, Uber left town during the RNC, run out by the heavy handed anti-competitive regulations of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, and headed to Charlotte for the DNC.
Also recall the entrepreneurial company Hop Tampa who was providing free golf cart shuttle services downtown. Hop Tampa free shuttle cart downtown shutdown.
In 2009, Hop Tampa was shut down by the dubious Public Transportation Commission. The Tampa Bay Times article Plug pulled on free shuttle service by downtown Tampa's electric carts reported:
Hillsborough County transportation officials Wednesday slammed the brakes on electric cart operators providing shuttle services downtown.The Public Transportation Commission ruled that the companies run vehicles for hire, which means they need permits to stay in business.
And all it took was a call from a local taxi cab company as TBT went on to state:
The board made the decision after hearing from an attorney for Yellow Cab.
Creative Loafing also reported on the shutdown with Free rides short-circuited as Tampa kills green downtown shuttle service:
It is a classic Catch-22; electric vehicles operators downtown say they were told they didn't need permits because they didn't charge for their rides (they make their money from advertising on the vehicles, and the drivers get tips), and since the PTC tightly controls taxi permits, they likely wouldn't be able to get them anyway. But even though they don't charge fares and mostly provide rides that the for-pay taxis won't/don't give (short hops that aren't profitable), the PTC put them out of business after cabbies complained.
Apparently these private sector, entrepreneurial golf cart transportation services were being well received in downtown and south Tampa. They were free to riders because they used advertising on their vehicles. They provided a service for those short hop trips that taxi cabs do not want anyway. The taxi's want the longer haul trips, especially from the airport.
The question that needs answering is what is the purpose of the PTC? Hillsborough County is the only special district in Florida that regulates for-hire vehicles with such a commission. It regulates taxi cabs, limousine services, towing services and ambulance services. PTC regulations force for instance Tampa limo services to charge a minimum $50 charge to step your leg into a limo, even if you only want to go 10 miles down the road. PTC regulations are inhibiting ambulance service competition in the county. PTC regulations are driving out innovative, entrepreneurial businesses like Uber and Hop Tampa.
Now another innovative new company, RideCommand, is trying to pick up where Uber was forced out.
RideCommand - new phone apps
RideCommand App The Tampa Bay Times reports today Company offers luxury car rides via smartphone app: RideCommand lets customers use a mobile phone app to order a ride right away for a predetermined price or put future rides out to bid to get the lowest price possible. President and Founder Al Stapleton, who retired from the US GAO, developed the concept and stated this in the Times article: "We're giving consumers the power to choose," he said. "We think people can ride for less if they're in charge.""We feel like the market should determine the price, not the government," said Stapleton, who is funding the company himself.
Here at the Eye, where we support free markets, innovation, competition and entrepreneurs agrees, but the power and regulatory control of the PTC lurks as the Times article goes on to state: He (Stapleton) also hopes pressure from customers could eventually persuade the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission to reduce or eliminate the fare minimum — an effort that proved futile for Uber.
Every other county in the state has figured out how to ensure safety, provide choice and competition around these vehicle for hire transportation services. For example, if you want to start a new transportation service in Pinellas County you can easily go to the their website and obtain a Public Vehicle Certificate.
Last but not least is a reminder of the corruption and ethical issues associated with this commission. Former County Commissioner and PTC board member Kevin White went to prison for bribery and corruption charges associated with this board. Current Hillsborough County Commissioners who sit on this board, Victor Crist and Ken Hagan, receive campaign donations from the very companies they regulate. The smell of this Commission is so strong the Tampa Tribune recently weighed in with their Op-Ed, Dump public transportation commission.
Corruption, Cronyism and inhibitor of Competition are the 3 C's associated with the Public Transportation Commission. Perhaps while the County Commissioners are handing out our tax dollars to some large companies, they can reign in the PTC too.