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

App for That

Another Taxi App Is Coming to New York

Ms. Herman. (Photo: Twitter)

There is something alluring to entrepreneurs about the New York taxi system. Mainly, it’s messy. One taxi drives around W. 4th St., looking for fares, while around the corner a frazzled passenger tries vainly to hail one of the occupied cabs on Seventh Ave. How inefficient! There should be an app for this, thinks the entrepreneur.

And that’s how GetTaxi came to be. Technology has changed, but the way we hail cabs has not, the company says. After bringing its app to Israel, London and Moscow, GetTaxi has raised $20 million and set its sights on New York, where it will launch in the coming months, said Jing Wang Herman, CEO of GetTaxi USA. “The customer experience for taxis has really been the same for decades,” she said. “I think everyone would agree that there’s definitely room for improvement.” Read More