London is a fantastic city—fast-paced, culturally diverse, wonderfully charming and quite rightfully one of Europe's crowning jewels. But as much as we love the UK's great metropolis, we don't always love having to navigate Central London.
If you've ever lived in or travelled to The Big Smoke you'll know that the Tube is not always prompt, nor is it particularly reliable or passenger friendly (in the sense that many Central London Tube stations were not built with passengers with prams, heavy luggage or wheelchairs in mind). When trains are hopelessly overpacked during peak times, haling Black Taxi Cabs can be just as tricky. And while travelling via Minicab can be bizarrely entertaining, sometimes all you want to do is get to where you're going in one piece and in peace, minus the adventure ride.
So if public transport is often overpacked and unreliable and cabs are either too few and far between or too dodgy, what other options are there? The answer: Wheely. This is the official application of Wheely, a new taxi cab mobility + mobile concept that is the brain child of a young Russian entrepreneur and his team. Read on after the jump for more details.
Features & Use
Tested on: Samsung Galaxy Note
Runs as of: Android 2.3.3.
Wheely is a recently launched taxi service for Londoners and London travellers. It provides users with an official application via which they can book rides and get price quotes for specific journeys, as well as travel in style and with an greener conscious thanks to its TfL approved partner fleets of Toyota Priuses and, more recently, Mercedes E-Class vehicles.
Wheely has four key features going for it:
The app is user-friendly and easy to use. Navigating the application is swift and smooth and booking rides is done in a heart beat. The app's set-up and clean cut, minimal design contribute to the ease of use.
Thanks to its 'fixed journey fare' policy booking a Wheely ride can be considerably cheaper than taking a Black Cab (up to 40%) or Addison Lee (just under 40%). Passengers are not charged extra for when cars get stuck in traffic and there are no surprises at the end of a journey, seeing as users know exactly how much they will have to pay for their journey up front. Newest feature: cashless payment is now also an option.
Fast & Secure
Wheely's mission is to get you were you're going as fast as possible and not keep you waiting for long after you've called for a cab. They work with a select group of private hire companies and keep track of cab drivers. There is also a tracking option for users, allowing passengers to post their locations and itineraries on social networks.
Cleaner & Greener / Travel In Style
Wheely chose to go with the Toyota Prius as its vehicle of choice. This model produces 40% less CO2 than what a diesel vehicle will cough up for each journey.
As of October 2012 Wheely has also partnered with a new fleet and Wheely customers can now also book Mercedes E-Class vehicles via the service.
Once you've installed the application you can dive right into booking your first cab ride: simply punch in your from and to locations and the the time at which you wish to be picked up. The first time you use the application you will receive a verification SMS so that you can prove that you are, in fact, a human.
You will then get a journey quote which you can accept or decline. This is a great feature as it spares passengers that awful scenario of haggling with cabbies because the car has gotten stuck in traffic, and feeling as though they're being ripped off. It's also an advantage for the cabbie, as this way users can't claim that they've come unprepared or hadn't counted on having to pay a given sum, seeing as everyone involved knows just how much a journey will cost. As of recently there is even a feature for cashless payment.
You will then receive a booking confirmation as well as a notification once the car has arrived. You can watch the car's itinerary via real-time tracking as you wait for it to arrive. Simple, effective, comfortable: just the way we like it.
Should you get stuck in traffic you can always use the extra time to get work done or broadcast your predicament, seeing as all Wheely offers free onboard Wi-Fi.
Lastly, it's kind of nice knowing that by choosing Wheely you are also choosing hybrid technology and thus contributing towards a greener future as a consumer.
The only major caveat with Wheely is that (for now) it is a London only service (see the App Description for a full list of postal codes the app will recognise). However, if you're looking to travel you can get to almost all London and nearby airports: Luton, Gatwick and Stansted, and to London from all LND airports: City Airport, Heathrow, Luton, Gatwick and Stansted.
Wheely is a top-notch app that does what it sets out to do flawlessly. The mobility concept behind Wheely is inspired and geared towards user comfort and ease of use. We appreciate the thought that went into creating this service and all the bonus features that add to the customer-friendliness.
My future London trips will be quite a bit less hectic now that I know I no longer need to scramble to get to places.
Screen & Controls
The Wheely UI is user-friendly and clean. Using the application is nice and simple.
The graphics are pared down and rendered in a green colour scheme, a nod towards the green automotive technology the service supports, no doubt.
Speed & Stability
Absolutely smooth sailing (or should I say driving?) all the way, and no performance issues with Wheely.
Wheely is available for free from Google Play.