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Apps for Hailing Cabs Cause Controversy in NYC

NYC's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a pilot program for apps that will allow users to request a yellow taxi ride on their smartphones rather than having to “raise [their] arms toward oncoming traffic” the old-fashioned way.
December 15, 2012, 11am PST | Erica Gutiérrez
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Skittish about considering the permanent usage of increasingly popular cab-hailing apps like Hailo, Uber, and GetTaxi, the commission only considering a pilot program for a trial period, and voted to limit such use to a certain geographic reach. Opponents of apps fear it will jeopardize business and “violate the industry's long-standing ban on prearranged rides in yellow taxis” wrote Matt Flengenheimer in The New York Times prior to the vote.“The tussle over smartphone apps has highlighted tensions facing a city that often trumpets its tech-friendliness but has been criticized by app developers and users for not moving quickly enough to support such services,” he said. Meanwhile, in a recent blog post, Travis Kalanick, the chief executive of Uber, the cab-hailing app that recently debuted in the city then stopped services just weeks later, told customers to try his product “in more innovation-friendly cities” like Boston and Toronto, reported Flegenheimer.

Taxi drivers won't be the only ones having to adapt to the new rules. "The move to open New York’s taxi market to apps will require adaptation from app companies like Hailo, Uber, GetTaxi and others, whose products are in use in other markets but do not yet conform to the requirements laid out in the TLC’s new rules," notes Ted Mann. "The regulations approved Thursday, among other requirements, will mandate that any app interfaces directly with the existing taximeter system in the city’s taxi fleet when calculating fares. The rules also disallow payment of additional fees to drivers who find customers using an app, as opposed to a street hail."

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Published on Thursday, December 13, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal
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