27th July 2016

Taxi drivers get on board with the Pokemon Go craze

Seen more and more pedestrians occupied by their phones lately? Perhaps everyone’s just constantly texting more than they used to. Perhaps they’re checking up on the latest fast-moving news stories. Or maybe they’re all just playing Pokemon. That last one sounds a bit crazy, right? But funnily enough, it’s truer than you might first think!

Nintendo’s cute cartoon creatures first burst onto the scene around 20 years ago, so why is everyone suddenly getting swept up in the craze again? Simple. The brains behind the franchise have given it a revamp with a new smartphone game, Pokemon Go, which use real-world location data for players to catch all their favourite characters.

Gap in the taxi market

After its release in various countries earlier this month, the app itself has become so popular, it’s overtaken the likes of Twitter and Snapchat in terms of daily usage across the globe. As a result of the game’s overwhelming popularity, businesses have been looking to capitalise on the trend too, from cafes advertising themselves as rest stops to taxi drivers offering rides to Pokemon hunters!

In Mexico, Australia and the US, select cabbies have begun to promote themselves to game players looking to explore various locations. Drivers have hired themselves out for set periods of time without a set destination, but instead taking spontaneous directions from passengers as they play and collect. Thanks to a runaway smartphone smash, a novel client base seems to have emerged for drivers.

Other drivers getting in on the action

Perhaps a bit concerning, however, is the idea of drivers without a taxi licence offering their own chauffeur services to make a bit of money on the side. One particular case has arisen after an ad was spotted on the classified ad site Gumtree, where a driver in Leeds has offered to escort Pokemon fans around as they play the game.

Unofficial “pop-up” services like this, while created with good intentions, have the potential to go awry, especially without any regulation or background checking. The general public may find them convenient, but may not necessarily understand the risks of getting a ride from what is effectively an unlicensed taxi driver.

The craze will eventually pass soon enough, but while there are millions across the world engrossed in this new real-world aspect of gaming, perhaps it wouldn’t be the worst thing to take advantage of it while you can. Even if you’re not interested in re-marketing yourself as a Pokemon driver, don’t be surprised if your passengers ask to make a few detours or quick stops while they enjoy catching ’em all!

Main featured image: CkyBe / Shutterstock.com

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