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New York officials say they are reviewing smartphone apps right now

A battle is brewing in New York City over smartphone applications that allow users to hail a taxicab. A lawsuit was recently filed by Livery cab drivers to block Yellow Cabs from accepting passengers who use a smartphone hailing application.

The reason the lawsuit has sprung up stems from nuances in the New York taxicab rules. In New York City, Yellow Cabs can pick up passengers who hail them on the street, but can't be dispatched by phone. On the other hand, Livery cabs are in a different category and are only allowed to pick up passengers who call ahead to arrange a pickup. Apparently, Livery cab drivers are upset at the idea that Yellow Cabs being hailed by smartphone are actually being dispatched by phone.

Livery cab drivers believe that if the approximately 13,237 Yellow Cabs with the New York City are allowed to prearrange pickups using smartphone apps such as HailO and Flywheel, it would violate Taxi and Limousine Commission regulations.


HailO for iOS

New York City officials said they are reviewing the apps and hope to have the new system up and running soon.
 
Yellow Cabs are a $2.5 billion industry and transport over 500,000 passengers each day. However, typical Yellow Cabs within New York spend 40% of their time empty and looking for passengers. Yellow Cab drivers, however, believer that hailing apps will allow them to spend less time empty and more time making money.

Source: Transportationnation.org



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By drycrust3 on 2/18/2013 10:38:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
In New York City, Yellow Cabs can pick up passengers who hail them on the street, but can't be dispatched by phone. On the other hand, Livery cabs are in a different category and are only allowed to pick up passengers who call ahead to arrange a pickup.

Knowing nothing about NYC as well, I guess this is where rules that came about for historical reasons, and which everyone is dissatisfied with but daren't change because of the anger changing them would cause, are finally confronted with so many shifts in technology that everyone is forced to sit down and talk, hopefully civilly, to each other so they can get the rules rewritten.
As I see it, when a person presses the "Pick me up now / here" button on their app, they aren't actually making a phone call, but they are booking a cab. The app isn't using the voice channel of the smartphone to communicate with the taxi company server, so it isn't a phone call.
The Yellow Cabs company, in turn, may not actually be dispatching the driver by phone, and probably haven't for a long time. They probably are dispatching the driver by some sort of data transfer protocol (if the system I saw when I visited LA in the 80s is anything to go by).
The Livery cabs, in turn, when their app is used, even if it is by someone who is standing right next to one of their cabs, is actually "booking" a taxi.
I think this could easily be solved by getting the NY City Council to re-write the rules in a fair and equitable manner because, as I see it, they were probably out of date long before smartphones actually came on the scene.




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