Friday, February 15, 2013
Listen to a conversation about why NYC Taxi innovations so often result in litigation.
The latest effort to reform and remake New York City's taxi industry has met a similar roadblock as previous efforts: a lawsuit. Livery cab drivers have filed suit to block a rule change that was set to go into effect Friday permitting yellow cabs to accept passengers through smartphone apps.
But city officials say they're reviewing apps as planned and hope to have the system up and running soon.
In New York, yellow cabs have the right to pick up passengers who hail them on the street, but can't be dispatched by phone. Livery cabs are a different category of taxi that can only pick up passengers who call ahead to pre-arrange a pick up.
If the city's 13,237 yellow cabs are allowed to pre-arrange pickups through apps like that, it amounts to a violation of Taxi and Limousine Commission regulations that distinguish yellow medallion cabs from livery cabs, the lawsuit filed Thursday alleges. (Lawsuit is here)
The spokesperson said the apps could go live after March 1 when a contract expires with the companies that provide the in-cab credit card processing and other technology--a suite of services known in the taxi industry as TPEP for Taxicab Passenger Enhancements Project. The TPEP contract would prohibit payment through a third parties, like the smartphone apps. That contract was set to expire today, but has been extended to March 1.
The TLC says four smartphone app companies have already submitted apps for approval and are being reviewed for features like integration with the meter and usability by drivers so they aren't dangerously distracted by their phones while on the road.
So called e-hail apps can make finding a cab easier and driving one more profitable, according to Anil Yazici, a Research Associate at the University Transportation Research Center. "This will bring some efficiency to the search process," he says.
Yellow cabs in New York spend 40 percent of their time empty looking for fares, especially during off-hours and outside the city center. Yazici says apps "won't eliminate empty trips, that's for sure. But surely it will reduce the empty percentages."
It could also reduce business to livery cabs. In the past just about every change in taxi rules that could cut into the business of one category of cab has resulted in court battles. Earlier this year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan was blocked to add a new category of outer borough "green" cabs that would have a meter and be allowed to pick up street hails outside Manhattan's central business district. (Ruling) Another plan to convert all yellow cabs to a single new car model known as the Taxi of Tomorrow is also facing a court challenge.
The latest legal challenge against yellow cab e-hail apps goes to court on February 28th.
NYC yellow cabs are a $2.5 billion industry and carry over 500,000 passengers a day.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
By Casey Miner
(San Francisco – Casey Miner, KALW News) Starting this summer, San Francisco’s taxis will be among the most expensive in the nation – but officials are hoping they’ll also be the most used. The MTA, which has overseen city taxis since 2009, voted Tuesday to raise rates by 10 cents per fifth of a mile -- or per minute. The board also wants to raise the drop fee, or the rate meters display when passengers first enter the cab, but they won’t take up that issue until later this summer.
It’s the first in a series of steps the city hopes will make more efficient use of the city’s 1500 licensed cabs. Higher rates mean a steadier cash flow for cabbies, who aren't always inclined to risk picking up passengers in far-flung neighborhoods. But the increase is only part of an ongoing campaign to integrate taxis more fully into city life.
After the vote, several drivers said that while the fare increase was a good start – they haven’t had a raise in nearly a decade – they still felt there was a long way to go. Particularly contentious has been the issue of credit card transactions (cabbies pay a 5% card processing fee), and electronic waybills (detailed records of all taxi trips). Those last two issues will be addressed at additional "taxi town halls" coming up this summer.
The city’s liaison to the cab drivers is director of taxi services Christiane Hayashi. I caught up with her to ask about what’s in store for SF’s cabs.
How would you describe the taxi situation in San Francisco right now?
Thursday, July 15, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) UPDATED New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission has licensed five commuter van operators to pick up riders along bus routes that were discontinued June 27th, when New York's transit system made its most extensive service cuts since the days depicted in the movie "Taxi Driver."
The use of so-called dollar vans has been called "a cowards way out" by the Transport Workers Union. Former Chicago Transit Authority Chief and current interim President of City College Robert "Buzz" Paaswell says the transit cuts are a "tragedy of the first order," and shakes his head that the city has come to rely on dollar vans as a means of transit.
But for riders in Eastern Queens who have few subway options, and those in Brownstone and other areas of Brooklyn that otherwise have no transit connectivity, the vans are bound to provide some relief. Riders can board at designated stops, disembark anywhere, and can't use metrocards. The TLC says it is unsure how many riders a day will use the service, though it says anywhere from 650 to 2100 riders a day used the old bus routes.
The routes covered include the former B23, B71, B39, Q74, and Q79. Here's the press release: