Just six weeks after a San Francisco-based company launched a taxi-hailing app, it announced that the app has been discontinued because of issues regarding contracts between New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission and payment processing companies.
Uber’s downloadable app, which was designed to provide customers an easier access to the yellow taxicabs, connected drivers with customers who were looking for a ride. Customers could indicate the location of the customer while drivers had about 15 seconds to respond to the request.
Allan Fromberg, deputy commissioner for Public Affairs for the Taxi and Limousine Commission, said the commission is currently working to create a set of rules, which are expected to be complete by mid-February.
“We are well along in the process of creating a set of rules and regulations to support the use of apps while providing the necessary consumer protections and leveling the playing field for any app developers who want to do business here in [New York City],” Fromberg said.
He said Uber must wait to relaunch their app after the regulations are complete.
“We totally embrace everything apps have to offer those who want to use them, but we have to make sure that certain guidelines are in place to protect the public,” he added.
Imran Manzoor, 32, Taxi driver, said the Taxi and Limousine Commission has been warning drivers that it is illegal have such apps on their phones.
But Manzoor said the app could be useful when it is authorized.
“On weekdays, there are much fewer people on the streets, so this app would help tell the taxi drivers where the customers are so we can keep business going instead of just driving around looking for customers,” Manzoor said. “It’s also useful to inform the drivers if we are on the wrong side of town.”
Manzoor, however, said he is not sure if he will commit to using the app.
“On the way to pick up someone listed on the app, I may just stop to pick up somebody else already on the street,” Manzoor said.
Manzoor said he would not feel obligated to pick up a customer through the app unless the Taxi and Limosine Commission made it mandatory.
Stern sophomore Trisha Goyal expressed enthusiasm toward the app.
“I would use it in a heartbeat,” she said. “Sometimes I struggle to get a taxi, even in New York.”
Anthony Townsend, a visiting scholar at the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, said this app will be helpful to New Yorkers.
“I’ve used a similar app in San Francisco called ‘Cabulous,’” Townsend said. “I think electronic hail apps are an amazing innovation.”
But CAS senior Aditya Keswani said the app may be unnecessary.
“I don’t think I will get the app because it’s easy enough to hail a cab by yourself in the city,” Keswani said. “I think the app would be less useful in NYC because taxis would definitely get sidetracked on the way to responding to an app user because it is just as easy to find a customer on the street.”
Pia Brar is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]