The first half of 2020 showed just how much significance the community dollar holds for businesses of all sizes in our region and it has also proven that, especially in a community like this, the collective power of neighbours helping neighbours is no match for economic adversity.
A driving force in our shifting marketplace
Waterloo Taxi has been operating for more than 70 years, so it is no stretch to say that the company has been down this road more than once. Management has learned to not only embrace change, but to grow and evolve with fluctuating social trends, population demographics and local economy.
For Waterloo Taxi’s director of marketing Tony Rodrigues, staying abreast of change is the only way to stay in synch with their large & loyal customer base. “Throughout our evolution, we’ve had to adapt to changes within our industry, and our environment.” On a corporate level, this type of forward thinking lends itself to enhanced operations, better services and valuable partnerships throughout the Kitchener-Waterloo community.
Waterloo Taxi regularly supports a variety of local projects and initiatives. There is the “Drive for Life”, a program that provides free rides to and from Canadian Blood Services donation appointments on every holiday Monday on long weekends throughout the year. Twice a year, Waterloo Taxi hosts a “Drive for Heart”, donating one dollar from every fare that day to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The company offers free rides for veterans on Remembrance Day and, during the coronavirus pandemic, provided transportation to grocery stores for seniors and those with physical challenges, free of charge.
When you support local, LOKAL supports you
Waterloo Taxi was started nearly 80 years ago with just five cars, and has grown to a fleet of 87 vehicles including wheel chair accessible vans. The long list of transportation services include local and long distance transportation, personal and corporate deliveries and airport shuttle service, working directly with the airport authority in Toronto to provide direct travel to and from Pearson Airport.
Like all businesses, Waterloo Taxi has had to adapt over time. Just two years ago, the company was faced with a new challenge brought about by modern technology: the ride-hailing app. Rather than giving up or just going with the flow, Waterloo Taxi rose to the challenge of taking that existing technology and making it even better. “In order to become a complete service provider, we felt it was important to provide the community with the ability to hail a taxi,” says Rodrigues, who led the project with the intention of meeting the needs of loyal customers, and giving new riders a reliable, secure and user-friendly alternative. “At that point, we launched our standalone app and branded it under the name LOKAL.”
Working with students at Laurier University, along with the Waterloo Taxi board of directors, the company created and launched its own ride-hailing app. With a more appealing look, easy to navigate website and seamless user experience across multiple devices, LOKAL allows customers to not only book a ride but also see and lock in a fixed rate up front, pay in the app securely, track the car, receive a text alert when the ride arrives and even rate the driver. And with rates competitively set at 15% lower than traditional fares, LOKAL is a more affordable alternative for commuters throughout the K-W region. LOKAL is, as the brand says, ‘Your Ride, Your Way.’
Now, in anticipation of a future that is sure to present greater and even more unique challenges, preparations for additional program enhancements are underway. These changes will make it easier for more people to support the local marketplace and continue to help their neighbours.
“Looking forward, we’re going to continue to innovate, and we’re looking at providing more services to the Kitchener-Waterloo community and ways to get you out of your house and in to these businesses. With the community opening up, it’s time to rally and support local.”