Last Hurdle Falls in NYC Taxi App Battle; Judge Dismisses Black Car E-Hail Lawsuit
A New York judge today dismissed a lawsuit aimed to stop e-hail apps like Uber and Hailo from helping people get rides with their smartphones in New York City.
Judge Carol Huff disagreed, saying that the digital nature of e-hail would likely be less discriminatory than drivers who pass by customers in the street.
E-hail companies Uber, Hailo, Taxi Magic and Flywheel have been actively preparing for a year-long pilot program with the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission by undergoing third-party certification processes for security and payments processing.
A source familiar with the situation said the TLC is likely to give developers the go-ahead in a matter of a few weeks.
Via email just now, Flywheel CEO Steven Humphreys said, “We’re as set — or more — than anyone else. With the lawsuit being dropped, the taxi e-hail pilot is back ‘on’ with the NY TLC.”
“I am absolutely overjoyed,” said Hailo CEO Jay Bregman tonight, on the phone from London. “We are ready to rock and roll and just waiting for the call.”
Bregman said Hailo had already signed up more than 5,000 New York taxi drivers in anticipation of the pilot program.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, meanwhile, was a bit more pointed in emailed comments. “The fact that Taxi Commissioner David Yassky and Mayor Mike Bloomberg were able to overcome the transportation industry’s blatant self-interest should be a lesson for other cities and states who also want to be forward-looking, tech-friendly and visionary,” he said.
New York is the U.S.’s largest taxi market, by far. There are 13,000 cabs in the city, and nearly as many sedans and limos. Currently, cabs cannot prearrange rides, while livery drivers are not allowed to have meters, so both groups actively lobby against the other receiving better access to passengers and their wallets. Though Uber works with taxis in some markets, historically it has been more aligned with the black-car drivers that are its bread and butter. But it, and all the other startups, want e-hail.
Here’s the decision: