Why call when you can text?
One cab company is embracing this idea by allowing customers to text their request for a ride.
Discount Cab launched the new texting service in Phoenix on Aug. 28 and in Tucson Sept. 3, according to Mark Marjancik, the manager of Discount Cab in Tucson.
Discount Cab marketing coordinator Karol Clark said that among 6,000 requests for cabs last weekend in Tucson and Phoenix, 43 were sent via text. Clark called this ""a pretty good start.""
To request a cab, customers text the pickup address including apartment number, city and state, or zip code, to 777222 or 777CAB. Discount Cab's rates do not change because of this new service, but standard text messaging rates do apply, Marjancik said.
Discount Cab uses a separate company, GoFastCab, to provide the texting service to its customers. Besides Phoenix and Tucson, GoFastCab operates through various cab companies in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Jose, Chicago, Nashville and Charlotte, according to the company's Web site.
If a customer enters an address incorrectly, they will receive a text asking for more specific information. Once the servers at GoFastCab verify the address, the company will send the information to Discount Cab to dispatch the request. The customer will also receive a text with a confirmation number, according to Marjancik.
""The quickest part is you don't have to wait for a human being on the phone,"" he said.
Customers can also text the words ""status"" to determine the position of their request, ""cancel"" to end their request or ""help"" for assistance.
The option to contact Discount Cab by phone is still available.
""It's just another form of communication,"" Marjancik said.
The Tucson nightlife scene seemed receptive to the new technology.
Carlos Valenzuela, a bouncer at North on 4th, 536 N 4th Ave., said he thought the texting service would be useful if it worked and if people knew about it.
""It would all depend on how fast they got here,"" he said.
Valenzuela said it usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes for a cab to arrive after calling.
Lauren Kelly had never heard of Discount Cab's texting service, but said she thought it was a good idea as she walked in front of O'Malley's on Fourth Avenue.
Although she said they rarely need to take cabs home, she said they would consider using the texting service.
""If you're in a bar, it's really loud. You have to leave (to call a cab), and sometimes there's a long line to get back in,"" said Kelly.
She added that texting would prevent people from having to use minutes on their cell phones.
Because the service is so new, it will be difficult to determine which customers will be most likely to use it, Marjancik said.
""I think the regulars are going to use it a lot,"" he said. ""People who like to go out and have a good time but know better than to drive.""