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Taxi Dispatch Logic: Zoneless Vs. Zone-based dispatching

Nov 23, 2023

by Andy George

The iCabbi taxi dispatch platform is extremely powerful and very flexible. So much so that many of the configuration options and depth of the older features and functionality can be forgotten by even the greatest super users. 

I had a discussion with iCabbi old-timer and dispatch system expert Steven Holland about how iCabbi can dispatch trips relative to how the industry is evolving. In other words, zone based taxi dispatch Vs. zoneless taxi dispatch.

iCabbi stripped of all its powerful customisable features is zoneless. Indeed that is the starting point for a basic taxi dispatch system. So, if you want to go zoneless with iCabbi, you simply don’t turn some of your features on.  

Most iCabbi customers use zone based taxi dispatch. This is traditional within the taxi and private hire industry as it offers greater potential for the operator to spread drivers out. It gives drivers greater visibility on when they can expect a trip,  and theoretically in the world of pre bookings offers passengers a greater chance of being picked up on time. 

Having said that, there are times when zoneless dispatch may be the right approach for your business. In our view what makes most sense, however, is having a highly configurable system that empowers you to dispatch in a variety of different ways based on circumstances and time of day/week. That way, you can optimise your system to  best meet the challenges of demand and supply in ever changing circumstances. 

Steven and I talked about different ways to maximise driver efficiency and minimise passenger wait times using advanced booking rules and zone profiles to get the most effective dispatch times. Since we both found the conversation useful, I thought it was timely to write a piece about it to refresh people’s memories, and in some cases to teach people something new.

iCabbi Taxi Dispatch Logic 

Did you know that iCabbi can dispatch by these logics and more:

  • Closest driver (no zone boundaries, the passenger becomes their own virtual zone)
  • Traditional zone-based rules
  • Longest waiting driver (prebookings/asap/both)
  • Closest driver unless there is one less than X miles waiting longer than Y minutes
  • Remove all rules at the click of a button to get a trip out to the nearest car
  • By passenger type (eg VIPs)
  • By area of the city/country
  • Through other fleets under the same ownership (bureauing, sites)
  • Through other partner fleets powered by iCabbi (dispatch based networking, currently piloting)

Advanced Taxi Dispatch Configuration 

Did you know that we can mix all these up instantly as needed or for regular business using schedules, rules, advanced booking rules, and profiles?  This allows you to optimise your dispatch system for: 

  • different times of the day or week, and/or, 
  • different job types or lengths, and/or, 
  • relevant traffic conditions such as rush hour or concerts/festivals/sports event  
  • adverse weather conditions
  • where you want your cars to be, or the direction you want them to be travelling in eg into city centre at closing hours on a Saturday night

To zone or not to zone?  That’s not really the question

So as you can see there are many ways to skin the ‘trip dispatching’ cat.  Zoneless dispatch is just one of them. But  we don’t believe it is the optimal solution.  A hybrid of zones and zone-less dispatch that uses powerful rules and logic offers the best of both worlds. It ensures the best experience for both your drivers and your passengers with the best response times, the least amount of dead miles, and the highest earnings for your drivers.  

Flexibility is what matters because it puts you in full control of your business.