New from Google Labs is Google Ride Finder (GRF). This service uses GPS data to pinpoint and map (using Google Maps) the location of taxis, limos, and shuttle vehicles available for hire in 10 U.S. metro areas.
The 10 areas are:
+ Baltimore, MD
+ Chicago, IL
+ Cleveland, OH
+ Dallas, TX
+ Milwaukee, WI
+ New York, NY
+ Phoenix, AZ
+ San Jose, CA
+ St. Louis, MO
+ Washington, DC
For example, in the Baltimore/Washington Metro area Google is working with Super Shuttle (a company that takes people to and from the area airports) and just one taxi company in Alexandria, Virginia.
In San Jose, Google maps the whereabouts of taxis from Silicon Valley
and Yellow Cab - San Jose and Checker Cab of Silicon Valley.
Remember, just because a taxi or shuttle van is only block or two away from your location doesn't guarantee they're going to come and pick you up but heck, this might help get the taxi/limo there sooner. More importantly, I think this is an interesting beta of location aware services that will soon become part of our daily lives. Google also provides a page where fleet owners can ask for more info about becoming part of the service.
Google also mentions that they're "working closely" with a variety of companies including Mobile Knowledge, Tranware, and Vettro. I wonder if they're also using some of the technology they got with the acquisition of ZipDash that Mike B. blogged about yesterday.
This service would also be useful to mobile web users. I'm guessing that the Google Mobile team has this on their "to do" list.
Google Ride Finder reminds me of another service called NextBus that does the same type of thing with bus and train location info for several U.S. metro locations. They even offer a web alert service.
It also reminds me of several air traffic info services that have been around for years. I'm not talking about the many sites that offer estimated arrival times of when a plane is due to arrive at an airport but the tools that also provide near real-time maps and other data (speed, direction, altitude) of all planes currently in an FAA database. You can see what I mean here and/or here (look for the quick track menu).