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All hail next-wave taxicab apps

By Arun Sundararajan, Associate Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences, NEC Faculty Fellow & Doctoral Coordinator

Arun Sundararajan on Steve Jobs

Now it’s time for City Hall to take its tech-friendliness further and deliver more of its benefits to the average New Yorker.

Digital-savvy New Yorkers were disappointed in October when, after a month of operations, San-Francisco based startup Uber ended the New York City taxi pilot it was running with 160 yellow cabs.

For a matter of weeks, people could download a free app onto their smartphone and use it to e-hail a cab by clicking on a “request pickup here” button, getting an exact wait time and a real-time GPS position of their taxi visible on a mobile map. After the ride, the customer’s credit card on file was charged — no multiple swipes or cash exchange needed.

Uber’s pilot ended because of pressure from the powerful Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates yellow cabs in the city.

The service wasn’t yet illegal under existing TLC dictums. Soon, that will change. As soon as Dec. 13, the TLC will introduce new rules to oversee e-hail and e-payment for all yellow cabs. And though the stated intention of the new regulations is to invite innovation, the effect will be the opposite.

A public hearing last month revealed a dense 85 pages of new rules — many of which stifle true competition.


Read full article as published in the New York Daily News.