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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

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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

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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

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While Talks with the TLC Stall Out, Uber Partners With HBO to Give New Yorkers a Free Ride in a Vintage Whip

Uber HBO Boardwalk Empire

Uber will not go gently into that good night. The request-a-ride app raged against New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission last week for putting a stop to its rogue mission to let New Yorkers hail and pay for a yellow cab with a few taps of their smartphone. Uber already offers the services for black cars and hybrid cars, but at a hefty premium.

To keep the company top of mind for New Yorkers, Uber is partnering with HBO today and tomorrow to promote the premiere of the third season of “Boardwalk Empire” this Sunday. The startup will be offering free rides in a fleet of vintage vehicles from the Roaring 20’s on September 13th and 14th. The offer is only available 11am to 6pm and only for up to three people travelling between Midtown and Soho in Manhattan.  Read More

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Uber Wants Its Yellow Cab App to Cost Riders the Meter Plus a 20 Percent Tip

Black hole. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Yesterday, we broke the news that Uber, the San Francisco-based request-a-ride service, was close to launching an app in New York City to let you digitally hail and pay for a yellow cab with your smartphone. The launch was planned for today, but hit a road block in discussions with the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC)–prompting CEO Travis Kalanick to offer free taxi rides for New Yorkers for a week while they sorted it out.

This morning, we spoke to Mr. Kalanick, as well as Uber NYC’s general manager Josh Mohrer by phone. Both offered more detail regarding what Uber’s taxi app might cost riders and drivers, why the launch was delayed (cough Verifone cough), and why they rushed into the market (hint: it concerns a different kind of British invasion).  Read More

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Uber Is Offering a Free Taxi Ride to Every New Yorker to Promote Its Yellow Cab App

Contents: one cupcake. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Update 9/6/2012: The TLC just issued a statement reminding drivers they are not authorized to use digitally hailing or payment apps. Uber CEO says, “We believe we are totally legal.”

Check out our interview with Uber about its plans for taxi service New York City.

Earlier this afternoon, Betabeat broke the news that Uber planned on launching a request-a-ride app for yellow cabs in New York City that would let riders digitally hail and pay for taxis with their smartphones. The company already offers a similar service here for private black sedans and SUVs.

However, Uber’s plan ran into some delays as the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission tried to make sure that it complied with city rules and payments regulations. Read More