Why Hailing a Taxi May Soon Be Ancient History

Ted Mann explores the new wave of mobile applications changing the way cabs and their customers interact, which could make the act of physically hailing a cab obsolete in as soon as five years.
September 25, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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From Hailo to Get Taxi, a number of promising applications are lining up to get regulatory approval to start connecting taxis to customers in New York and other American cities. As Mann explains, "The apps all work slightly differently, but in general they allow smartphone users to see where available cabs are, alert drivers that they need a ride, and store credit-card or debit-card information so they can pay for the trip without exchanging money or swiping a card."

Unfortunately, in many cities, outdated regulations written long before the rise of smartphones must be revised to allow a handful of tasks that would allow the apps to be fully functional.  

"'Technology is moving at lightning speed,' and the regulatory process is not, says Matthew Daus, a former New York City taxi commissioner whose law firm, Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf LLP, is advising regulators about new technologies. 'We're at a regulatory fork in the road,' Mr. Daus adds. The crafting of new rules 'has the opportunity to be the greatest potential achievement if it's done right,' he says. 'Or it could be the biggest disaster ever' if it fails to let the industry benefit fully from the latest technologies."

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Published on Friday, September 21, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal
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