Internet-linked phones have been changing the way we travel through big cities for some time now. Mobile sites and apps combined with GPS allow us to see real-time arrival estimates for trains and buses. If your city has bike-share, you can even use your phone to find out just how many bikes are in the nearest station. But for so long, taxis seemed to lag behind. Hailing a cab has until recently involved either a phone call or a raised hand.
That's finally changing. For years, Alexandria, Virginia's Taxi Magic was the only major online option, but the San Francisco-based sedan-booking service Uber has since begun to branch into a lower-cost traditional taxi service, and Hamburg's myTaxi has also recently launched in the United States.
Conveniently enough, all three options now compete in my city, Washington, D.C.—a city that, until 2008, subjected taxi passengers to a perplexing zone-fare system that earned nationwide scorn.