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Transportation Nation

Car Sharing App Lyft Hits Roadblock in NYC

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

WNYC

The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission said Lyft is unauthorized to dispatch cars to pick up passengers.

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Transportation Nation

Court Gives Green Light to Accessible Taxis

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It’s official: half of New York’s yellow cabs will be wheelchair-accessible by 2020, and a 30-cent surcharge is going to pay for it.

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Transportation Nation

Judge: Taxi of Tomorrow Is Legal

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

An appeals court ruled that the city's plan to have a fleet composed entirely of Nissan vans can move forward.

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Transportation Nation

Taxi Hail App Leaves New York City Yellow Cabs in its Rear View Mirror

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

(Photo by Caitlyn Kim)

In a bitter blog post, the head of a taxi-hail smart phone app said his company was pulling the app out of New York City yellow cabs -- one month after launching.

Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, said bureaucracy had prevented his app from gaining a foothold in the city's taxi fleet.

"We did the best we could to get more yellows on the road but New York’s TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission) put up obstacles and roadblocks in order to squash the effort around e-hail," Kalanick writes.

Uber allows ride-seeking passengers to hail available cabbies with their smartphones. But the app got a chilly reception when it entered the New York market in September. Only 160 cabbies participated in the UberTAXI pilot -- a fraction of the city's 13,000 yellow cab fleet.

The TLC said it was restricting the use of electronic hail apps due to "current contractual agreements between the TLC and payment processors." A passenger using the smartphone app pays its fare to Uber. But the TLC has existing -- and exclusive -- contracts with two companies (Verifone and CMC) for payment service. The agency says until those contracts expire next year, it can't allow any other company to process fares.

And another obstacle: the TLC also reminded cabbies last month that New York law forbids the use of electronic devices while driving.

While some cities (most notably Boston and San Francisco) are Uber-friendly, the app has met with resistance in other places. The company has been battling the Washington D.C. city council over regulations, and it's being sued in Chicago over its practice of automatically charging a 20 percent gratuity.

"We’ll bite our tongues and keep our frustration here to ourselves," Kalanick writes, not entirely succeeding. "In the meantime you can try UberTAXI in more innovation-friendly cities."

But the taxi app could one day return to New York. TLC commissioner David Yassky said the agency "is moving toward rule changes that will open the market to app developers and other innovators. Those changes cannot legally take place until our existing exclusive contracts expire in February. We are committed to making it as easy as possible to get a safe, legal ride in a New York City taxi, and are excited to see how emerging technology can improve that process."

That rule change could be introduced at a TLC meeting next month.

Uber's car service hail apps -- UberX and Uber Black -- continue to operate in New York.

 

 

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Slate Culture Gabfest

The Culture Gabfest: "There Are Some Broke Down People Out There" Edition

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Slate critics Stephen Metcalf, Julia Turner and Dana Stevens discuss the TLC show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo", the Mike Birbiglia / This American Life film "Sleepwalk with Me", and the phenomenon of viral video marriage proposals.

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WNYC News

Drivers Push for Fare Hike Ahead of TLC Vote

Monday, July 09, 2012

Cab drivers from throughout the city came out in force on Monday to push the Taxi and Limousine Commission to approve the proposed 17 percent fare hike.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Taxi Commission To Vote on Fare Increase This Week

Monday, July 09, 2012

(photo by Kate Hinds)

(New York, NY -- WNYC) By the end of the summer, the cost of a taxi trip may be more expensive.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is poised to vote this week on the first taxi fare hike in six years. The proposed increase would boost fares by 17 percent.

Cab driver Badr Battaoui, 29, said the daily cost of leasing the taxi and medallion, rising gas prices and 5 percent drivers are charged per credit card transaction add up.

“The bills are expensive,” he said during a short break from his 10-hour shift at the corner of Second Avenue and 1st Street. “I'm not going to tell you that I'm poor, but I don't save up that much, you know? I have student loans. My wife has student loans. We have kids."

Cab drivers are also hoping that the TLC will end high credit card fees and institute a driver health fund, which the city is considering for the first time.

Veteran cabbie Brij Jihingen, who has chronic illnesses such as diabetes, said he has been waiting 25 years for a health fund that would set aside 6 cents per ride.

"I have sugar, blood cholesterol and blood pressure-- you name it I have it,” said Jihingen, who, like many of his fellow drivers, does not have health insurance.

A health fund, he said, would show the city values its taxi drivers.

"Because we are working for the city as well… you can see a normal person's health and a taxi driver’s health -- you can recognize a taxi driver from a distance...here's a cab driver coming.”

Taxi passengers have mixed feelings about the proposed increase.

John Salvo, who runs a Soho art gallery and lives in New Jersey, said comparatively taxis are cheaper in New York City than many other cities like San Francisco and Las Vegas.

"They actually do a pretty good job and it’s a pretty fair bargain so perhaps rates should go up a bit,” he said.

Gayle Brown, who lives in Manhattan, said she rides her bike most places and takes cabs only when she’s wearing heels or heading to or from the airport. But she feels for the drivers.

“Well, everybody is pinching and food is going up, everything is going up”, she said.  “I don't blame people for trying. Cab drivers aren't rich. You can see that.”

Of course, not all customers are on board.

Sherri Lynn Graham from the Bronx doesn’t think drivers don't deserve it.

“I think it’s crazy because they're not polite people sometimes, and they don't stop for black people sometimes,” she said. “You know, you want an increase then you should give us the service that we need.”

Also being considered is the elimination of the per-swipe fee of 5 percent cabbies must pay on credit cards, and instituting a flat $9-per-shift charge instead. Fleet owners vehemently oppose the proposal.

Michael Woloz, spokesman for the fleet organization the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade said “the $9-a-shift increase is not an increase at all—also, it’s far less than the 5 percent.”

Woloz said he thought the proposal was a punishment to medallion owners who are currently pursuing a lawsuit against the city to block a plan that would allow livery cars to accept street hails.

While drivers are hoping for a fare hike with no increase in the lease rates, many longtime passengers, like Gina Cecala, 80, of Manhattan are ambivalent about paying more for a ride.

"Dollar more, dollar less — don't bother me, beats walking,” said Cecala, who takes cabs several times a week. “They want it, they get it. That's it.”

The TLC is holding a public hearing on the fare proposal Monday and is expected to vote on the measure this Thursday.

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WNYC News

TLC to Vote on Fare Increase, Other Driver-Backed Changes

Monday, July 09, 2012

WNYC

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is poised to vote this week on the first taxi fare hike in six years. The proposed increase would boost fares by 17 percent.

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Transportation Nation

Companies Get in the Race for NYC Taxi App

Monday, June 11, 2012

NYC Taxi (photo: Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

(New York, NY -- WNYC) A taxi app competition sponsored by New York City is heating up. The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is accepting proposals for an app that will help passengers pay for their taxi trips with their smartphones.

"You could pre-load your credit card and pre-set the tip amount that you use and that way when you get in a taxi you click that app and you don't have to worry about swiping that credit card at the end," said TLC Commissioner David Yassky.

In addition to the convenience of not having to dig for a credit card before getting out of a cab and having a record of the receipt, at least two of the companies in the running also promise their technology will assist customers in locating a taxi.

One of the competitors, Jay Bregman, who is CEO of the company Hailo, said, “We want to help solve the inefficiencies in the taxi market.” The company already offers a popular taxi app in London. “Why go into the street when you can hail the cab from inside the house or the bar?” he added.

Radios and dispatchers are barred from use in yellow cabs but companies like Hailo said that there isn’t any need for a dispatcher with their app — it’s more like putting your technology in the air, instead of waving your arm in the air to hail a cab.

But some in the industry are against using gadgets to find cabs.

The Livery Roundtable, a group that represents over 300 livery bases in the city, said in a statement: “Digital hailing is just another sleight of hand by the TLC to masquerade its desire to de-reregulate ground transportation … Besides forcing the driver to text and drive — prearranged service is legally the exclusive right of the for-hire service sector.”

But TLC Commissioner Yassky said digital hailing isn’t necessarily their goal — it’s only a function they’re considering.

"App developers are welcome to give us other functions on top of payment … we'll see what comes in," said Yassky.

Another company keen on getting into the city’s taxi market is GetTaxi.

The company’s CEO, Jing Wang Herman, said they’d like to provide drivers with a dashboard-mounted box that will help them connect with customers. In addition to other functions, their app will help disabled customers find a wheelchair-accessible taxi.

Yassky said the number of winners in the app contest depends on the quality of the submissions.

The last day to submit entries is Thursday. Winners are expected to be announced this fall.

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WNYC News

TLC Says Taxi Fares Should Increase

Thursday, May 31, 2012

WNYC

Taxi fares will definitely be going up soon, according to Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky.

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WNYC News

TLC to Consider 1st Overall Taxi Fare Hike in 8 Years

Monday, May 21, 2012

A proposed taxi fare hike may go into effect by the end of the summer.

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WNYC News

Liu Vows to Block 'Taxi of Tomorrow'

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

WNYC

Comptroller John Liu further complicated the city’s Taxi of Tomorrow project on Wednesday by saying he wouldn’t approve the city’s contract with Nissan because the vehicle selected isn’t wheelchair accessible.

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Transportation Nation

OMG! It's Green! New Yorkers React to New Cab Color

Monday, April 30, 2012

The city's new outer-boro street hails, inspired by the color of Granny Smith apples (photo: Brigid Bergin/WNYC)

(New York, NY -- Brigid Bergin, WNYC) Move over, Granny Smith. Apple green taxis are coming to an outer borough near you.

That's the official color the city selected for the new boro Taxis. Cars this shade of green, a color WNYC reported was on the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s short list, are scheduled to bring taxi service to Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx and northern Manhattan starting this summer.

Taiwo Whetstone, 30, gasped at the green hue. “Oh, my! That's really bright. Bright green. I mean it seems like the Brooklyn version of a taxi cab,” suggested Whetstone who lives in Clinton Hill.

But she liked the idea of it and said it would make her feel better about hailing a cab, “Coming from Brooklyn, you know, that’s kind of nice to have taxi cabs that are that obvious.”

Looking at a picture of the new cab color, Andrew Lis, 38, and his 7-year-old daughter Josie gave it a luke-warm reception.

“It's ok. It doesn't look like a cab,” said Lis as his daughter Josie chimed in, “It looks booger-colored.”

 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined TLC Commissioner David Yassky and other elected officials for the big reveal on Sunday in City Hall Plaza. The mayor called the vibrant shade “attractive” and “distinctive” adding, “It’s easy on the eyes and easy to pick out from a distance in traffic and that's going to help customers.”

“I think that green matches the leafier nature of the boroughs, as opposed the office towers of midtown,” said Yassky.

The TLC plans to issue 18,000 permits that will allow livery vehicles to legally pick up street hails, a practice that is currently illegal and subject to tickets and fines through TLC enforcement agents.

Yassky said the city has a “zero tolerance policy” on illegal street hails with 36,000 tickets issued in fiscal year 2012.

Under the new plan, current livery drivers will be eligible to apply for the $1,500 boro taxi permit on a first-come, first-serve basis starting Tuesday May 29. In June, the city will issue the first 6,000 permits, with two subsequent waves to follow.

A group of yellow cab owners have filed a suit to block the plan. That lawsuit is still pending.

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WNYC News

TLC Approves Draft Plan for Five-Borough Street Hails

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Taxi and Limousine Commission has voted 7 to 2 to approve the rules governing outer borough livery street hails, 15 months after Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his intention to expand taxi service throughout the city. It's the last hurdle before the city starts selling some 6,000 new medallions in June.

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WNYC News

Taxi Group Goes to Court to Block Livery Street Hail Plan

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WNYC

The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, an organization that represents 33 taxi fleets, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to block the Bloomberg administration’s plan to legalize street hail service for cars other than yellow cabs. The suit comes right before Thursday’s scheduled Taxi and Limousine Commission’s vote on the draft rules that will govern the livery street hail service.

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WNYC News

Anxiety Looms in the Livery Industry as Borough Taxi Permit Sale Nears

Friday, April 06, 2012

The livery industry is set to change how it does business when the Taxi and Limousine Commission will vote on rules for its new five borough street hail plan this month.

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Transportation Nation

Anxiety Looms in the Livery Industry as Borough Taxi Permit Sale Nears

Friday, April 06, 2012

Livery Cab (photo by Kate Hinds)

The livery industry is set to change how it does business after the Taxi and Limousine Commission votes on rules for its new five borough street hail plan later this month.

It’s the last major step before the first 6,000 livery permits are sold in June and legal street hail service comes to the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan in a new form -- and it’s causing much uncertainty within the industry.

At a TLC sponsored information session near Yankee stadium this week, about 300 livery drivers and base owners crowded into the auditorium at Lincoln Hospital voicing concerns and seeking answers.

Judy Vargas, who owns a livery base in Washington Heights, said she’s concerned about a new rule that would punish base owners if their drivers break the rules, such as accepting street hails outside the stipulated boundaries.

“The TLC should not fine base owners when the taxi drivers pick up in the street because if we are going to have a permit that costs $3,000, we shouldn't be fined for that."

Vargas is also worried about some of the other requirements but she believes if she doesn't opt in her drivers will leave. There are 476 livery bases throughout the city.

"If we're not part of it … my drivers will go somewhere else,” Vargas said.

Drivers are also up in arms about some of the changes outlined by the TLC is a 89-page rule book on the proposed street hails.

(Photo: TLC Commissioner David Yassky talks with livery driver Clara Santiago.Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

Veteran Bronx driver Hamilton Delos Santos said he's been picking up street hails for a decade — even though it’s not technically legal. He has been ticketed three times in 10 years, but successfully fought the summonses.

He said he’s not sure why he would need to invest about $5,000 to upgrade his cab and buy a new livery permit.

“I’ve been taking street hails since I’ve been doing it, so now we have to invest all this money. It’s something we've already been doing for so long — what’s the total investment, the paint the meter, the taxi top — too many questions not being answered in there.”

The fine for accepting illegal street hails is $350.00.

During the information session, Clara Santiago, who works for Riverside Car Service, asked TLC Commissioner David Yassky why she'll have to paint her car a different color if she purchases a livery permit.

She has a black Lincoln.

“You want to keep it that way..I understand. But we’re trying to make a distinction about the cars that can pick up off the street and the ones that can't,” he said.

Yassky said he's not surprised there is still some confusion. He expects much of that to melt away after the plan is enacted and passengers do what they do best — put up their arms and hail a cab.

"Once we get the licenses issued and the drivers are in the street with borough taxis and people are able to hail them down, I think a lot of the questions people will figure out for themselves. Drivers are smart, passengers are smart. Our job is to just get those cars out on the street so people can flag them down.”

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WNYC News

Hail to the New NYC Taxi; Nissan Cab Unveiled

Monday, April 02, 2012

In a cab and your cell phone just died? No problem. Just plug it in. The new cabs hitting the streets of New York City next year will have charging ports for riders' electronics.

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WNYC News

Taxi Industry Skittish About Proposed Rule Changes

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Taxi and Limousine Commission held its first public hearing on Thursday about proposed rule changes in the taxi industry as the city’s five borough taxi legislation comes to fruition and street hail permits begin to be sold in June.

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WNYC News

Appeals Court OKs City's Taxi Medallion Plan

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New York City has received a green light from a federal appeals court to proceed with a plan to sell 2,000 new yellow taxi medallions despite a pending challenge from advocates for the disabled.

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