Ride or Die

Hailo Launches Taxi App Beta Test; Uber Approved for TLC Pilot Program [UPDATED]

That was fast.
HURRY. (Photo: screencap)

Gotta jet. (Photo: screencap)

Well, that sure didn’t take long. On Tuesday, a judge dismissed the lawsuit against the city’s taxi apps pilot program. And today, Hailo began rolling out a beta test of its own app for yellow cabs.

Earlier today, “founding passengers” received a chipper email from CEO Jay Bregman, which announced: “I can’t tell you how long I have waited to say this; Hailo Beta is LIVE in New York City! Think of Hailo as The Taxi Magnet – the app that brings Yellow Cabs to you.”

The beta is currently invite-only and will add additional riders in batches, but you can tweet using #SkipTheLine and every day Hailo’ll pick 10 people who get in early. In a blog post, Mr. Bregman called it “closed, limited testing,” explaining that this is a smaller-scale dry run to make sure all systems are go for the “a larger scale pilot.”

In the meantime, here’s a video from Hailo explaining how the service works. It depicts a woman hailing a cab for the airport from her bedroom, and it must feel like a real kick in the teeth to the black car business.

(Updated, 4:00 p.m.) Well, looks like the fight for the e-hail market is as dramatic as ever. The TLC tells Valleywag that so far, they’ve approved just one startup for inclusion in the official pilot program–and it’s Uber, not Hailo. A spokesperson told Valleywag that, “it appears that Hail-O is operating outside of it. We are communicating firmly to taxi drivers that they may not use unapproved e-hail apps.” We’ve reached out to Hailo for comment and will update if we hear anything.

The TLC provided Betabeat with a statement from Taxi Commissioner David Yassky, which at least makes it sound like there are other companies in the approval pipeline:

“Thanks to the NYS Supreme Court’s ruling this week, we will be able to see e-hail services made available to the riding public through a one-year pilot program that officially begins today.  The first provider to be approved is Uber Technologies, Inc. There are several other companies in various stages of our approval process with others sure to join them, and we are excited about the prospect of seeing the universe of choices expand.”

Meanwhile, everyone keep their eyes peeled for the sight of Travis Kalanick and Jay Bregman heading outside to settle this thing with fists, mano-a-mano.

(Updated, 4:40 p.m.) Nothing like a little Friday-afternoon announcement scramble. Uber has provided us with a statement from CEO Travis Kalanick: “We couldn’t be happier to be the first and only e-hail app approved by New York City to operate — and UberTAXI will be lighting up yellow cabs across New York City momentarily.”

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com