NYC Judge Gives Green Light To Taxi Riders Using Apps To Hail Cabs

Times used to be, the person who could stick a couple fingers in her mouth and whistle down a yellow cab on the streets of New York City was envied by the silent, cabless masses. But now that a judge has smacked down a lawsuit against a new “e-hail” program in the city, anyone with a smartphone will be able to hail a cab with nary a sound.

The plan has been brewing for a while now, but faced opposition from livery cab drivers who wanted to maintain the market on scheduled passenger pick-ups, since they’re not supposed to hunt for fares among passengers standing on the street and didn’t want yellow cabs horning in on their territory.

With the dismissal of the lawsuit, the Manhattan judge lifted a temporary hold that had been placed on the plan last month, notes the New York Post.

As for livery companies’ claims, the judge wrote that they “complain that taxi drivers’ use of the ‘one-touch’ e-hail system will distract them and cause accidents, but neglect to point out that their own drivers are permitted to use such devices already,” she wrote, adding that the program could thwart discrimination based on appearance.

“At least on its face, the program appears better aimed at avoiding discriminatory passenger selection,” she wrote. “The driver must accept an e-hail without knowing the passenger’s identity or destination.”

TLC Chairman David Yassky sees the move as a sign that NYC is moving into the future.

“This decision is a victory for all the riders who want to decide for themselves what technologies and services they want to use,” he said in a statement.

The next step in the program will involve Taxi & Limousine Commission reviewing potential apps and approving them for use across the city.

A TLC spokesman says there are four applications from app developers currently in the pool, with more expected now that the plan has the green light again.

And as one guy interviewed by the NYDP put it, it’ll be good for people who are too occupied trying to stand up, much less raise a hand to search for  cab.

“If I was drunk in Brooklyn, I’d want to be able to hit ‘hail cab’ [on my phone] and have them come to me without any confusion,” said one forthcoming 28-year-old man.

It’s Big ‘App’le for cabs: Judge OKs e-hails [New York Post]