Published: 12:10, 05 April 2017
Two taxi companies will merge to create the first firm to cover the whole of Swale and the first to use technology which they say will give Uber a run for its money.
Starlite Taxis, based in Faversham, and iCars, from Sheerness, are joining forces and are already offering dozens of jobs.
They will be launching an app, which they say is similar but smarter and safer than the Uber service, and there will be multiple payment and booking options – a first for Faversham.
Richard Kipling of Starlite said: “We started chatting a few months ago and realised that we shared the same values in customer service and decided to go into partnership to bridge the gap between Faversham and Sheerness.We will be keeping the local, family-run business values but using international technology.
“We are so excited about using this technology which really is at the forefront of the industry.
“Nobody else is using it in Faversham and we believe we are the first to even offer card payments.”
American-based Uber has controversially revolutionised the taxi market with its app-based service using freelance drivers, particularly in major cities, but is expanding to the regions.
Mr Kipling said: “Once we have the staff on board, we will eventually expand into Sittingbourne so we will be covering the whole of the Swale area – something nobody else is doing.”
Tony Stevens of iCars has been using the app and the technology for a while on the Island and says it was a “run-away success” from the moment he launched it.
Customers will be able to order and track their driver on their mobile phones, check who it is that will be picking them up, how far away they are and what registration their vehicle is.
But setting it apart from Uber, customers in Swale will be able to book in advance and will be sent a text message when their driver is on their way and when they are outside.
People will still be able to call up the offices to order a cab and pay with cash but they can also use chip and pin, credit or debit card, contactless and Android and Apple pay.
Tony added: “We are now looking for employees to come and join our growing team, whether it’s drivers or people working in the call centres and we can offer all sorts of shift patterns.
“We are really passionate about creating employment in our communities.
“We believe we are doing exactly what the customers want. We are completely customer driven.
“This investment into the technology is not just an investment for our businesses, but we see it as an investment into the people and our communities.”
The app will launch for Faversham within the next couple of weeks.