A new “eco” booking option enabling passengers to specifically choose electric or hybrid taxis to support Ireland’s drive to reduce carbon emissions has been launched today on the FREE NOW app.
FREE NOW, Ireland’s largest e-hailing app, has been focused on expanding its electric and hybrid taxi numbers over the last few years which now represent 18% of its fleet in Dublin, and the eco booking function, available in Dublin immediately, has been introduced to help customers choose more environmentally-friendly transport options.
A recent survey of FREE NOW passengers showed that almost 70% of people are now more environmentally-aware in their day-to-day routines, including when making decisions on how to travel, since COVID-19, and that 90% of passengers would consider an eco taxi if it was an option available.
In addition to launching the new booking option, the e-hailing app has suggested the Government consider introducing a Green Travel Taxi Credit, not dissimilar to the stay and spend scheme, to encourage passengers to switch to ‘greener’ taxis by enabling them to claim money back for every journey taken in an eco vehicle.
Launching the new booking option, Niall Carson General Manager for FREE NOW in Ireland, said: “The abrupt nature of the COVID pandemic and its widespread damage to public health and the economy has been stark, but its unintended consequence of reducing carbon emissions and pollution presents an opportunity for society. We want to help the public capitalise on these recent carbon-reduction improvements by helping passengers and drivers to make the switch to more environmentally-friendly vehicles, and the new eco booking option is a significant step in this respect. Having a specific eco booking option is also something that has really interested our business clients in Ireland as they look for greener ways to travel.
“People from today will see eco taxis ‘wrapped’ in grass across the city, and this is just one initiative as we look to raise awareness of this new booking option. There are undoubtedly challenges involved for drivers to switch to greener taxis like electric vehicles, and we also want to work with them to understand the ‘pain points’ of switching. This will provide valuable insights, both for us in terms of how we can help, but also for policymakers regarding how to incentivise the taxi sector more generally to make the switch to greener cars over the coming years. For instance, we believe some form of Green Travel Taxi Credit that offers an actual financial incentive has the potential to really drive consumer behavioural change and new ‘green’ vehicle adoption in the taxi fleet.”
“While Ireland still has a way to go, we have the potential to lead the way when it comes to innovative and greener transport options. We are keen to work with the Government to see how we can encourage passengers to choose greener transport modes, how we can help drivers make the ‘green’ switch, and ultimately how to improve air quality and make our cities better places to live in.”
Alan Murphy, Smart Dublin Regional Manager welcomed the launch and said: “It is encouraging to see that FREE NOW has launched a specific booking option for greener vehicles. I hope that it will encourage more people to think about the environment and air quality in this city when choosing their mode of transport. Sustainable mobility must be a priority for Dublin as we emerge from lockdown.”
FREE NOW has the eco booking option in several European markets already – in London over 40% of taxi trips are done in eco vehicles.