New York City's Road to Taxi E-Hail Just Keeps Getting Bumpier

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 - 06:07 PM

Hailing a yellow cab the old-fashioned way -- and with a dog in tow (Kate Hinds)

An appellate judge has issued a restraining order preventing New York's pilot yellow cab e-hail program from going forward.

Less than a week ago, another judge ruled the program could go ahead. And on Tuesday, Uber re-launched its taxi hail app in New York.

The city's oft-delayed e-hail pilot -- which would allow passengers to hail a yellow taxi using a smartphone app -- has been vigorously litigated by the livery car industry since the city approved it earlier this year.

The temporary restraining order is in effect until a full panel of Appellate Division judges reviews the appeal later on this month.

Attorney Randy Mastro, who represents the livery companies, said in a statement "we are very gratified by the appellate court's decision granting an emergency injunction. This faux 'pilot program' is so fundamentally flawed and illegal in so many respects that it had to be stopped. And now it once again has been. And for that we are extremely grateful."

On the other end of the emotional spectrum is New York City Taxi and Limousine head David Yassky, who was angrily tweeting just minutes after the news broke. "It is appalling that narrow commercial interests continue to try to block passengers from using the latest technology," he said in a statement. "You can’t stop progress, and these obstructionists shouldn’t be trying. We're confident this program will move forward.”

Avik Kabessa of the Livery Roundtable and Ira Goldstein of the Black Car Assistance Corporation took exception to Yassky's description.

“From the day the TLC announced the ‘e-hail’ pilot we have been portrayed as anti-technology obstructionists," said the pair in a joint statement. "That has never been the case. This ‘pilot’ program silenced the voices of more than 35,000 livery, black car and luxury limousine operators and drivers; it ignored the City Charter and the Administrative Code. We went to court to fight not only for our industry but for our system of checks and balances. We are pleased and gratified the appellate court will allow us our day in court.”

Read the justice's handwritten TRO below, as well as Randy Mastro's petition.


Comments [2]

Tyler Young

@Kim W.: These programs support both online booking and SMS hailing, so smartphone ownership isn't actually a requirement.

The existence of phone-operating dispatchers evaporates your argument (as currently stated) anyway, unless you really want to take the stance that nobody should be allowed to call for a cab until every single person has equally easy access to a telephone of some kind.

I think it's worth pointing out that Taxi Magic and similar companies have been providing e-hail for years. The only difference is that Taxi Magic interfaces directly with the dispatch system already in place, so there's no extra equipment on the drivers side.

Jul. 01 2013 03:29 PM
Kim w. from Brooklyn, NY

Okay, we always hear from the TLC and the livery cab owners about the cab-hailing apps - but what about the group of people who would also be negatively affected by this app: people WITHOUT smartphones?

There are a lot of us out there. What happens when I'm trying to hail a cab the old-fashioned way, but all the cabs on the street have already been swiped out from under me by yutzes with smartphones who are still just coming out of the bar when I've already been standing there 20 minutes?

Not everyone has a smartphone. Not everyone can AFFORD a smartphone. This is just going to screw us over.

May. 02 2013 07:13 AM

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