The Bloomberg Administration just can't hail a break when it comes to taxi policy! Each time they try and introduce something new or different—a cab for the future, a fleet of hail-able outer borough cabs, e-hailable yellow cabs—it gets shot down or at least mired in legal red tape. The Taxi of Tomorrow has its accessibility problems (among other issues!), the "Boro Taxi" livery plan got shot down by a judge and now the TLC's attempt to finally allow smartphone users to hail a cab with their phone have also been stopped by the courts. But only for now.
At issue are apps like Hailo, which allow users to "hail" a cab without actually putting their hand out. After much handwringing the TLC finally approved such apps (for a trial period) last year and was set to unleash them on the city today. Never mind though! Yesterday, a judge issued a temporary restraining order on e-hails until March 19 when both sides on the argument are set to meet again.
So what's the problem? At issue here is the age old distinction between a taxi cab (which you hail by sticking your hand out on the street—or whistling in an old timey movie) and a livery cab (which you hail through a dispatcher—or when they illegally approach you on the street). Critics in the livery industry argue that e-hailing blurs the line between the two too much. "It’s not an 'e-hail.' It’s an 'e-prearranged pickup,'" Randy M. Mastro, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, sniffed to the Times.
Still, the TLC appears quite confident that after the dust settles e-hails will be as common place as paying your hack with a credit card: "Passengers can wait 10 days to enjoy the latest technology," pointed out TLC head David S. Yassky.