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Cab data: helping to bridge ‘that final mile’

CabGuide UK is a free app that helps people track down taxi companies when they are in unfamiliar locations

21 June 2021
Figure 1: The first plan helpfully suggests taking a taxi for the final leg, but gives no idea if one might be available from a taxi rank at the transport node or how to book a cab if not.
Figure 1: The first plan helpfully suggests taking a taxi for the final leg, but gives no idea if one might be available from a taxi rank at the transport node or how to book a cab if not.
Figure 2: The second plan suggests walking for 24 minutes to the final destination, which would be fine for some travellers but certainly not for all.
Figure 2: The second plan suggests walking for 24 minutes to the final destination, which would be fine for some travellers but certainly not for all.

 

I want to use public transport — but how can I reach my final destination? 

It may be rural, or it may be some distance from the nearest rail station or bus stop. It may be raining or the area unfamiliar, or I might have heavy luggage with me. I want to take a cab for the final leg of my journey, but how can I book with a suitable local cab firm? 

One of the challenges of journeys by public transport is often bridging ‘the final mile’ between the public transport node and the final destination. Cabs are often a solution where the alternatives are unrealistic — for whatever reason. Providing a journey plan that incorporates a cab or cabs for usually small parts of journeys can make the difference between public transport accounting for most of a journey and the traveller simply taking the car. 

Traintaxi has meticulously researched, validated and maintained cab data for all National Rail stations for 20 years. More recently, its specialised dataset was expanded to cover all named and coded localities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also maps to every public transport node in the UK and to every postcode. 

Data is available in XML and JSON formats via an API. Compiling, maintaining and validating this unique dataset remains a complex task, integrating information from 23 sources and using custom programs to help make selections. 

But is there a need? 

Definitely. Look at some results from journey planners in Figure 1 and Figure 2

The third result is simply unhelpful and the fourth suggests a 12-hour overnight wait. Both would be unlikely to result in any part of the journey being undertaken by public transport. 

To showcase the comprehensiveness of the data, there is now a free CabGuideUK app for iPhones and Android phones. Tracking down a cab firm in an unfamiliar location can be tricky but CabGuideUK is a trusted, unbiased solution. 

Users can search for a cab firm and its phone number based on place name, postcode, rail, metro or bus station, airport or ferry terminal or simply by current location. While most other cab-finding apps are location-specific and simply offer the user the nearest firm using results based on often stale and unreliable information, this useful new travel companion lists known cab firms serving each local area and every transport node. It also identifies those offering wheelchair accessible cabs. Screenshots below show typical screens from the CabGuideUK app — and also how the data is used in for (example) the Traveline Scotland app. It also makes an excellent complement to BODS data.

Further information — including a technical spec and an API test key — is available from Paul Bakker at: paul.bakker@traintaxi.co.uk

 
 
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