Starting February 15th, New Yorkers will be able to hail cabs via smartphones in Manhattan. The contentious one-year pilot program is being hailed as a win for transportation innovation, smartphone rideshare apps like Uber, and people who dislike holding their arms at a 45-degree angle. Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky called e-hailing apps “inevitable.”
The pilot will test the waters for cabs within 1.5 miles of passengers in norther Manhattan and the outer boros and half-a-mile in most of Manhattan, according to transportationnation.org. Despite some early trepidation from five of the commissioners, the program was approved unanimously, 7-0, with two abstaining.
Additionally, apps must comply with the current payment systems administered by Verifone and Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT), which, for the moment, could exclude popular smartphone payment system Square.
“Look, if we’re gonna bring e-hailing apps to New York, we’re gonna do it right, and we don’t want a kind of half measure that won’t provide real service to customers,” Chairman Yassky told Betabeat about the upcoming limited pilot.
Uber is declaring the ruling a victory for its smartphone app for taxis, UberTaxi, which had been shut down over alleged legal difficulties. But it’s unclear how Uber will be able to adjust to the metering requirement. We will update readers as the story develops.