A local cab company is not yielding to the new kids on the block, Uber and Lyft, without a fight. Liberty Yellow Cab is turning to technology to stay competitive with the ride-hailing companies.
To use ride-hailing, people have to set up an account with a provider and download a company app on a computer or a smartphone.
"Not everybody has a smartphone. Maybe a lot of the seniors and older adults may not use that technology," said Bill Yuhnke. The president of Liberty Yellow Cab says calls to his company are now handled by RedRoute, a state-of-the-art, Interactive Voice Response system, developed with the backing of Cornell University.
"The thing is, as this business is changing, the technology's changing, you've got to change with it and give what the public wants," Yuhnke said.
The biggest advantage, he says, is people don't need to give an address. The technology pinpoints the caller's location, even if on a street corner, and confirms the pick-up.
Liberty Yellow's IT Manager, Djordje Savija says the system sends text message updates and smartphone users can also track their cab.
"As an example, there's vehicle 288 accepted my call. I can click on this link. See who's coming to pick me up and what vehicle is coming to pick me up," Savija said.
Yuhnke says Liberty Yellow is the first cab company in the nation to use voice recognition technology and he believes he is now ahead of the competition because his company also has several apps.
"You still have the option to talk to a live person. You dial zero and you can get a live person. So, we got it all covered. We got all the bases covered," Yuhnke said.
Yuhnke admits "ride-sharing put cabs in check," but he says now, about 90 percent of his business is automated in some way and he's "looking ahead to the future."