The days of lumbering into the street to hail a cab like some sort of grunting Neanderthal may soon be a thing of the past. A judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit from the black car industry that sought to block an “e-hail” pilot program, permitting the Taxi and Limousine Commission to continue testing technology that would allow passengers to hail yellow cabs from their smartphones, a statement from the city's law department said.
“This decision is a victory for all the riders who want to decide for themselves what technologies and services they want to use,” TLC Commissioner David Yassky said in a statement. “The market will ultimately decide which apps rise or fall and we have an obligation to give the riding public that choice. Thanks to today’s ruling, they have that choice.”
Last month, a judge issued a temporary restraining order on e-hails on the basis that drivers would be more apt to discriminate against potential fares when it came to their "appearance or location," and that it would unfairly target the elderly, who are less likely to use smart phones. (Both points were shot down.) In response to the ruling, the CEO of Uber the leading taxi-hailing company, said:
Ever since our initial launch of Uber for New York CIty yellow cabs in September, we've been saying that you can't stop progress when the people want it enough. New York City has some of the deepest dug-in, most entrenched special interests in the country. 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.
Congratulations, New York, on slowly lurching out of the dark ages when it comes to hailing a cab. Maybe some day we'll finally be ready for these "electric taxis" the kids keep talking about. But let's not get our hopes up.