(UPDATE) TLC promises ‘appy days,’ approves hailing apps
“Appy” days are coming to city cabs, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said yesterday that ‘appy days’ are ahead for city passengers after the Commission approved city hailing apps.
Hail apps will be available sometime after Feb. 15 and can be used for hails within a half mile south of 59th Street in Manhattan and within one and a half miles elsewhere, Fromberg said.
“This is an exciting day for taxi riders,” Commissioner David Yassky said. “New York City is known for embracing innovation, and we’ve certainly done that today.”
As originally written, TLC regulations did not allow hailing a cab by phone, as in other cities like London, so the vote today concerned whether to reconfigure the regulations.
App companies like Uber, GetTaxi and Taxi Magic want to allow New Yorkers to hail with the tap of a finger.
Uber launched here this fall, but then shut down in October after pointing to rules that prohibited the pre-arranged hails.
Earlier this year, the TLC collected proposals from app companies, which also included rating taxis and paying by phone.
Some cabbies are in support of the apps, saying that they would help add hails and income.
So is Yassky, who wrote in yesterday’s Daily News that “regulations shouldn’t stand in the way” of connecting to taxis by phone.
“When new technology comes along, we should embrace it,” he wrote.
But others questioned how they would work, exactly, and whether drivers would rack up tickets while waiting for a fare to meet them at the agreed spot.
Cabbie John McDonagh spoke at the last hearing in favor of the apps, and told Metro, “If this is approved, it will change the industry, just as the credit card machine did.”
Washington Heights Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said he asked Commissioner David Yassky to reject the proposal.
He worried that it would harm livery drivers, who are now the only ones allowed to make pre-arranged pickups.
“With the inception of the ‘e-hail’ app, yellow cabs would be given the right to pick up customers through a pre-arranged service, taking consumers that would otherwise use livery service,” Rodriguez said.
Also, he warned that the app would “dilute the number of yellow cabs available for street hails.”
The city’s contract with a credit card payment processor ends in February, and officials had said no changes will take place before then.