Ride or Die

Here We Go Again: Appeals Court Puts the Kibosh on the TLC’s Taxi Apps Pilot Program

Some of NYC's famous orphaned iPhone transport vehicles. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

If this back-and-forth keeps up, we’re all going to get whiplash. Bloomberg News reports that once again, the courts have blocked the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s ehail pilot program, just days after it was given the all-clear. The black car business has appealed the dismissal of its suit against the program, and an appeals court judge has granted a temporary injunction until there’s a decision.

Good thing this broke after the end of TechCrunch Disrupt, or we might have had a disruptors’ riot on our hands.  Read More

Ride or Die

Nothing Says ‘I Love You’ Like an Uber Gimmick

When the moon hits your eye etc. Flickr, Robert Couse-Baker

Valentine’s Day, a holiday that exists largely to guilt the coupled into spending money and to drive the uncoupled to shell out for Match.com, falls on a Thursday this year. This is a problem, because Thursday might very well be the least romantic of all weekdays.

Well, the unlikeliest of saviors is riding to your rescue. On February 14, Uber will be offering in several cities the option of ordering a “Romance On-Demand” package, via its app. Included are a dozen long-stemmed roses and a personalized card. (Well, personalized in the sense your beloved’s name will be printed on the card. If you wanted to send something handwritten, you should have planned in advance.) Read More

Ride or Die

Cab Fight! New York City Vendor Sued for Breach of Taxi Technology Agreement

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With all the excitement over last week’s decision to test out taxi apps in New York City, another technological step forward got overlooked. During a meeting at its Beaver Street headquarters last Thursday, the Taxi and Limousine Commission also unanimously voted in favor of new rules for those credit card swipers and “entertainment systems” (scare quotes necessary) in back of your cab, referred to as T-PEP. Read More

Ride or Die

After Fears That TLC Would Kill Taxi Apps, E-Hailing Gets a Pilot Program

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In a packed meeting at the Taxi and Limousine Commission headquarters this morning, commissioners voted 7-0 in favor of adopting a year-long pilot program to test out e-hailing apps that let riders flag down yellow cabs from their smartphone. The pilot won’t commence until February. After reviewing data from the test run, the TLC will assess whether to make it permanent. The more limited pilot program is an abrupt change from an earlier proposal by TLC chairman David Yassky: to vote on e-hailing rules that would have opened New York’s taxi market up to any app that met guidelines and secured a license. Read More

Ride or Die

Q&A With TLC Chairman David Yassky About Tomorrow’s Big Vote on Smartphone Apps for Taxis

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Tomorrow morning, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission will hold a momentous vote at its headquarters on 33 Beaver Street concerning two sets of proposed rules–one of which could radically alter the taxi hailing experience for New Yorkers.

That highly contested proposal calls for changing e-hailing rules that have traditionally given yellow cabs province over street hails, where black cars and livery cabs focus on prearranged rides. If passed, those e-hail rules would open up New York’s massive, much-coveted market for yellow cabs to any request-a-ride app that meets guidelines and secures a license.

So rather than having to hail a taxi on the street, these apps will let you flag down and pay for a taxi with a few taps of your smartphone. Read More

Ride or Die

Off Duty Light Goes Off: Taxi Light System to No Longer Confuse Tourists

(Photo: Yellow Cab NYC)

It’s a secret point of pride for experienced New Yorkers that we know how to properly parse the mystifying taxi light system. It gives us a leg up over tourists, who spend so much time trying to differentiate between the Available and Off Duty lights that by the time they realize the cab is free, a local has already settled into the backseat.

But now, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Taxi & Limousine Commission has voted to revamp the baffling system: during scheduled taxi inspections between January and April, all taxis will be outfitted so that their signs only display one light when they’re available. When they’re taken or off-duty, the sign will be dark. Read More

Ride or Die

TLC Testimony Foreshadows October Ruling on Smartphone Apps for Yellow Taxis

Smartphone and the City

In a packed boardroom across from City Hall last week, members of the New York City Council’s Committee on Transportation met to discuss the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s plans for a smartphone app that will allow riders to digitally hail and pay for yellow cabs, with just a few taps of their phone. The TLC shared the results of a survey–conducted through backseat screen, naturally–which found that almost 70 percent of passengers owned a smartphone and that 50 to 60 percent of respondents want an app that lets them find and pay for taxis.

The testy standing-room-only crowd didn’t shy away from cheering (when Councilman Vincent Ignizio accused the TLC of secret plans to destroy the livery cab industry via e-hailing apps) and jeering (Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, who represents Bed-Stuy and Brownsville, pointedly rolled her eyes when a TLC rep implied it’s not that hard to find a cab to the outer-boroughs.)

The notion of radically altering as iconic a New York moment as flagging down a yellow cab was met with wariness and derision from council members. It’s hard enough trying to explain the off-duty sign to tourists or parents visiting from out-of-town–imagine if you had to instruct them on how to navigate an app. “What happens if you are a senior citizen or a disabled person and you do not have access to the apps or you don’t know how to work with them?” asked committee chair James Vacca. “Somebody with an app will be able to hail a cab and you’ll be standing in the street longer than you normally would.” Read More

Metro Tech

Coming Soon to a Taxi Near You: Square Wants to Replace Taxi TVs with iPads and Apps

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What if instead of a squawking box, capable only of blaring at you from the partition, Taxi TVs looked more like your smartphone and came stocked with apps like Foursquare? Square, the mobile payment company headed by Jack Dorsey, is trying again with a daring proposal for the Taxi and Limousine Commission: a pilot program that would replace Taxi TVs in 50 cabs with iPads or other tablets.

TLC chairman David Yassky said the tablets would also enable the commission to test out Square’s mobile payment technology “and swipe a credit card at any point in the trip,” reports the New York Times. It should come as no surprise to Brooklyn-dwellers who’ve to had to promise to pay cash in order to get back from Manhattan, but the current credit card system, controlled by Verifone and Creative Mobile Technologies, is hard on cabdrivers, who have to eat the fee for the transaction. With Square, there’s a chance to push down the price of transactions. Read More