That mythical smartphone-powered future of cabbing in which you won't even have to raise your arm to get a taxi ride is going to take a bit longer to become reality. Though the Taxi and Limousine Commission insists it'll happen, an existing contract has put the breaks on the future. But just until around February!

Earlier this week a company called Uber tried to jumpstart the move to taxi hailing-and-paying cellphone apps by dropping its software on the New York market. But the TLC wasn't exactly pleased with that move, as the app potentially breaks a number of the city's basic rules for hacks (like, yellow cabs having prearranged fares and how drivers can accept money!). And so yesterday TLC chair David Yassky put out a statement gently reminding everyone of the TLC's current situation (which is that we're stuck in a credit card payment contract with Verifone):


The TLC is eager to pave the way for taxi riders to take advantage of the most up-to-date technology, including smartphone apps that may help passengers locate available taxicabs more quickly. However, current contractual agreements between the TLC and payment processors restrict the use of apps. We intend to quickly begin a rulemaking process that will permit broader use of apps when these contracts expire in February. As part of that process, we will work collaboratively with the livery, black car and taxi industries to address their concerns about the impact of apps on existing business models and to ensure that our rules provide full protection to passengers.


Officials representing yellow cabs have all expressed concerns about the legality of software from Uber and its competitors (including Get Taxi, Taxi Magic, ZabKab and Hailio). On the other hand, Uber's CEO seems pretty miffed at the TLC statement, saying that "We feel like the T.L.C. has for the most part been friendly, until we got this."

Luckily the TLC's payment options will be freed up in February at which point hopefully a slew of new apps can rise. And really, that isn't too long to wait for a cab—if you are a handicapped person you'll be waiting much longer!