December 12, 2012

Commission Votes on Smartphone App to Hail NYC Taxis


Smartphones can seemingly do just about anything, so why not make it so you can hail a cab with them?

That’s the question the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has been trying to answer for the past few months, and the commission has announced it will come to a decision on the matter by the end of this week.

The vote will reportedly happy on Thursday, to either pass or veto the proposal to allow New Yorkers to request yellow taxi rides via their smartphones. Drivers would then be allowed to receive those requests and confirm the pickup location, which would revolutionize the way New Yorkers have operated for decades.

No longer would a passenger need to raise their hand and try to flag down an empty taxi. Additionally, the cabdrivers could not answer a call if it takes them far out of the way, which could prove a potential problem with the service.

David S. Yassky, chairman of the commission, said of the idea, “Bringing apps into New York would be a change in the way people get taxis. It makes sense to see how that pans out and see if any of the supposed problems with that materialize before you make it permanent.”

Another problem would be for those without smartphones being left in the lurch, and passengers with smartphones receiving ride priority. 


Image via Shutterstock

The commission has discussed possibly limiting the app’s geographic reach, which would restrict New Yorkers to hail taxis that are only within the surrounding area. This would ostensibly eliminate the need to raise your hand to hail the cab, but would do little else to change the current method of getting a ride.

Changing the process even a little has its drawbacks, however, and the idea has caused some controversy for those involved.

“You can’t just pull the rug out from [the drivers] and say: ‘Guess what? We’re changing the structure,’” argued Nora C. Marino, one of the nine members of the voting board.

Travis Kalanick, chief executive at Uber, which runs a black car taxi service in the city, commented on the benefits of instituting the smartphone-app service, describing how it could “make the system work better for drivers, riders and New York City’s economy.”

A similar idea has been tossed around for implementation in Boston, MA and Toronto, Canada, which Kalanick supported, as he viewed the locations as “more innovation-friendly cities.”

Still, New York does have a reputation for being tech-savvy, so the decision could at this point go either way.




Edited by Braden Becker




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