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Arizona company launches rideshare app, looks to rival Uber, Lyft

PHOENIX — Glendale-based Total Transit, which owns Discount Cab, has launched a rideshare app of its own aimed to compete with the likes of Uber and Lyft.

Total Transit said its app was “Arizona’s only legal rideshare service.” Drivers and cars would be required to meet the same standards as traditional taxi companies. Total Transit President Mike Pinckard said services like Uber and Lyft circumvent state requirements after Gov. Jan Brewer denied exemptions for the pair.

Pinckard said the Total Transit app has the same functions of other rideshare companies, such as mobile ride hailing and payment, GPS driver tracking and fair quotes, but unlike other companies, Total Transit requires their drivers to pass background checks, complete vehicle inspections and obtain commercial insurance.

“It’s an identical service that you would see with Uber X or Lyft, he said. “Ours is exactly the same with the exception of it’s safe, it’s legal and it’s insured.”

Total Transit has been working on the app for about a year as the demand for rideshare has continued to grow in Arizona.

Discount Cab is one of the largest taxi companies in the U.S. with more than 1,000 cabs. However, Pinckard said he doesn’t see the new app as internal competition against Discount Cab, but a complimentary service.

“We think it complements the existing service, it’s just a different type of service,” he said. “In most cases, you’re connecting it to a private individual, in our case a private individual who has met all the training requirements that the law requires.”

Pinckard said the service will compete with Uber and Lyft but customers should expect it to be more expensive because of the extra protections, primarily the commercial insurance.

“I would much prefer if I didn’t have to spend $5,000 to $7,000 a year on a vehicle (insurance),” he said. “What do you think my price would be? It’d be a lot less than it is today.”

However, Pinckard said the extra cost for commercial insurance and state inspection is important in keeping passengers safe. He said he hope riders are understanding of that and more comfortable when using Total Transit’s app.

“The cost of risk, is the cost of risk … if you have an accident there are costs associated with that,” he said. “In our case we take full responsibility for those accidents and we own them from dollar one.”

As part of the app launch, Pinckard said the company is holding an event to recruit drivers on Oct. 23 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Embassy Suites at 2630 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix. There, drivers will undergo background checks, drug and alcohol screening and vehicle pre-inspections.
The Arizona Department of Weights and Measures, which regulates cab companies, will be there as well to complete vehicle inspections.

The app is available on Apple and Android platforms.