Print 16 comment(s) - last by ferlauto.. on Feb 19 at 9:27 PM

  (Source: Shutterstock)
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.


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By Tupoun on 2/18/2013 10:19:31 AM , Rating: 5
I live in Europe and actually don't get it at all. Why the hell is one firm allowed to pick only the hailing passengers and the other only the calling ones? Why can't both firms pick whoever they want - calling ones or the hailing ones?

Can somebody explain this to me, I am really curious about it.

RE: Choice
By Motoman on 2/18/2013 10:36:10 AM , Rating: 5
The only explanation that can be given, as is frequently the case, is "people are stupid."

RE: Choice
By DaveLessnau on 2/18/2013 10:35:38 AM , Rating: 4
In a word, Unions.

RE: Choice
By chick0n on 2/18/2013 11:00:07 AM , Rating: 4
in NYC, there are 3 types of "cab"

Yellow Cab, you are allowed to pick up ppl on the streets ONLY because in Manhattan this happens pretty much every block and the business is usually ok, as long as you are BELOW 96th ST. anything above? not so much.

Livery cab, you are NOT ALLOWED to pick ANYBODY up on the streets, it HAS to be called to arrange, it fills in the gap where people just want a cab at a specific time. and these type of cab are always cheaper than Taxi because they have a set price. not metered like YEllow cab. So people who goes travels far, say, from 14th ST to dumbo Bklyn, makes more sense to get a Livery Cab than a Yellow cab. cuz it will be around 50% cheaper. and it also helps people in other 4 boros to get a cab, cuz no yellow cabs wanna hang around there.

Now starting last year, there is a "modified" version of Livery Cab, they are ALLOWED to pick people on on the streets BUT they are NOT allowed to do at or below 96th street of manhattan, in the other words anything above 96th ST of Manhattan and any other 4 boros are OK for them, but it cost around 2K to install meters, and gotta pay stupid TLC (Taxi & Limousin Commission) like 2K for 2 yrs or 3, forgot. but the signups are pretty slow cuz everybody knows it's just another way for those TLC suckers to milk more money.

I used to work in it (quit last year cuz it sucks) so I know.

RE: Choice
By TSS on 2/18/2013 6:03:21 PM , Rating: 2
He's not asking the how, he's asking the why. Why aren't all 3 types of cab allowed to make all types of calls, basically requiring just 1 cab? If the difference is money they could even raise the cheapest ones to the level of the most expensive ride, as there's no cabs here with a standard fare. They all operate around the same price, market conform, only the starting fares might be slightly different from company to company.

How it is here in europe is simple. There are only a few locations in which alot of people hail cabs. Railway stations, strips with nightclubs, usually near busstops as well. If anybody needs a cab they just walk a short distance to those areas and there's a cab waiting 9/10 times, or one will soon arrive.

If anybody calls for a cab it will be relayed to the closest cab, wether that's one standing still at a hailing spot or one returning from a delivery to the hailing spot. It can even be relayed to cab drivers at the cab companies head quarters, if it happens to be closest. With a large pool of drivers, there's always somebody returning and thus free, otherwise the customer will just call another cab company.

So why would you need 2-3 seperate types of cabs, some of which will drive by hailing customers?

RE: Choice
By chick0n on 2/19/2013 1:44:14 AM , Rating: 2
u dont get it? money

by breaking them apart, they can charge them at every single level possible. the tlc makes millions every year like this without doing crap, how?

forget about all the ridiculous fees they charge, they actually send undercovers out to to see if any of them are not following rules, thats good money right there.

RE: Choice
By Reclaimer77 on 2/18/2013 2:29:10 PM , Rating: 1
In a word, Democrats.

RE: Choice
By Florinator on 2/19/2013 1:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
Deregulated capitalism at work! ;-)

Taxi regulations always seemed silly to me
By ipay on 2/18/2013 9:59:55 AM , Rating: 4
I've never lived in NYC. Regardless, from what I know about them, they seem antiquated and a little ridiculous even.

By Breakfast Susej on 2/18/2013 10:06:20 AM , Rating: 3
I don't understand why for a city that is always in the news for some new hair brained environmental scheme by the mayor, that cabs ripping around the city empty burning up fuel looking for passengers is a better idea than efficiency in being loaded.

RE: Taxi regulations always seemed silly to me
By othercents on 2/18/2013 10:33:28 AM , Rating: 2
It would be better off if the taxi stayed at certain street corners and people went to them. An app like this could allow people to find the pickup locations vs the taxi finding the people.

In Turkey there was a call box to call a taxi. I don't think the app or even a call box would be considered a prearranged pickup. When it comes down to it, the Taxi services need to provide better service to the customer while reducing the cost of driving around empty.

By eskimospy on 2/18/2013 12:12:31 PM , Rating: 3
There's no room for taxis to congregate at street corners, at least not any street corner where someone wants to pick up a taxi. It would be a nightmare.

There is a powerful and entrenched taxi lobby in NYC that has been strangling attempts to change the system for years now. What I think the city really needs to do is just issue massive amounts of new taxi medallions or permit non medallioned cabs to pick up passengers, thus debasing the value of the ones currently out there. That would break the back of the taxi lobby almost instantly. This is in part what Bloomberg tried to do with the green cabs, but lawsuits have prevented this so far.

By Mint on 2/18/2013 10:40:20 AM , Rating: 2
Google suggests that Livery service is a bit cheaper anyway and has fixed prices for the customer beforehand, so why not just have an app for them? They're already increasing efficiency through pre-planning.

Seems to me that Yellow Cab has a very specific purpose in NYC, but it's rather bizarre that they have this delineation in the first place...

By drycrust3 on 2/18/2013 10:38:25 AM , Rating: 2
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.

By Danger D on 2/18/2013 3:12:45 PM , Rating: 2
The black cars already have an app for this. Uber:

By ferlauto on 2/19/2013 9:27:59 PM , Rating: 2
Here's the deal. Taxi apps are not the same, there are two flavors. ZabKab broadcasts your "hail" for a cab for free-- it's like sticking your arm up in the sky so tons of cabs see you. You just grab the first cab that comes to you like you do today. The other apps like Hailo "dispatch" a cab for you, meaning they match you up with a specific taxi driver (they also have your credit card info so they will penalize you if you don't wait and find the right driver). In this story Livery and Black cars are suing because that's what they do, "dispatch" a specific driver to you and yellow cabbies have always been "hailing" only.

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