Skift Take

The trial period will allow the TLC and app developers to work out kinks, but as one commissioner noted: "This trial period is like a marriage -- it's a lot easier to get into than out of."

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New Yorkers will soon be able to hail cabs on their smartphone. No waiting in the rain or walking for blocks in search of an open cab.

The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission approved a one-year trial period allowing e-hail apps like Uber, Hailo, and GetTax to roll out their services to consumers and cab drivers.

Seven commissioners voted in favor of the trial period and two commissioners abstained on the ground that they didn’t have enough information.

Here’s what we know now:

  • Passengers using an e-hail app below 59th Street will only be able to hail taxis within a half-mile radius of their location.
  • Taxis will be able to pick up passengers within a mile and half radius everywhere else in the city.
  • Drivers must be able to accept trips with just one tap in the app.
  • All payments must be processed through an authorized payment processor, called a T-PEP Provider. TLC is now accepting applications for new payment solutions.
  • Each app will have to report to the TLC every quarter.

“Like all pilot programs, this will provide a wealth of information and allow us to make a better decision down the road. We should not ignore technology that is out there. Uber, Hailo, and GetTaxi are out in other cities of the world,” said Commissioner Yasky.

App developers rejoice

Uber was criticized for its brash rollout of UberTaxi in New York City, which it shut down in just over a month. CEO Travis Kalanick says Uber’s return to New York is now imminent. “We already know how this pilot will turn out,” he says in a blog post.

GetTaxi, another e-hailing app that is currently live in London, Moscow and Isreal is less sure.

“There were several things that were problematic with the proposal in October so we’ll have to see what makes it into the final pilot program,” says Jing Wang Herman, CEO of GetTaxi USA.

Jay Bregman, Founder and CEO of Hailo, is confident that the TLC will work with the apps to create a pilot program that gives the e-hail system a real shot at success. Hailo has been quietly administering a driver-facing app to cab drivers in New York City.

Yellow taxis

While the sedans and cars that you can pre-book are staunchly opposed to the regulation allowing e-hail apps, the drivers of more than 13,000 yellow cabs are still unsure what to expect.

“The jury is still out on whether this will be a boon or boondoggle,” says Bill Lindauer, a representative for the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “What the app people say no might be different than what they say once the apps are in the cab.”

Payment solutions

All apps will have to process payments through an authorized T-PEP Provider. The current exclusive taxi payments with Verifone and CMT expire on February 15, 2013. Verifone neglected to comment immediately after the vote.

This is where Square could step in. Square ended its participation in the taxi payments program early this fall with plans to pursue a different hardware and software in light of the today’s decisions. Square did not immediately reply with a comment.


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Tags: nyc, taxis

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