Smartphone/E-Hail Issue

TLC Expands E-Hails Program: amNY

Taxi riders will have more opportunities to hail a cab with a touch of a button instead of a frantic wave of a hand.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission on Thursday expanded its e-hail program, opening opportunities for companies to make new apps that will get the attention of yellow and green taxi drivers, even if they’re around a corner.

“We believe the e-hail rules we passed today provide everything necessary to create competition and give passengers the protections and service they deserve,” said TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg.

These rides will still cost whatever the meter says and apps would be allowed to give passengers the ability to pay through their smartphones, though that feature must be compatible with the back-seat payment equipment, according to the TLC rules.

Councilman Ben Kallos backed the TLC’s new e-hail rules while pressing for his legislation to have New York City create its own e-hail app to compete with companies such as Uber, which put a $2 booking fee on e-hails of taxis last month. Kallos’ bill would cap these fees and require e-hail apps to display all available yellow and green taxis. Fromberg declined to comment on Kallos’ idea for an NYC e-hail app.

“For 8.4 million New Yorkers, plus all those who may travel here, they need to be able to have a single app that can be used, regardless of whether or not third parties choose to build it,” Kallos said.

Josh Mohrer, Uber’s manager in New York City, backed the TLC’s program to bring in new e-hail apps “that will encourage innovation, provide options for consumers, and create economic opportunities for drivers.”

The pilot started with a small group of apps including Uber and Curb, formerly Taxi Magic. The apps were mostly used in areas where yellow taxis are hard to find. Nearly two-thirds of trips hailed with a smartphone app started north of 110th Street in Manhattan or in outer boroughs, whereas those areas represented 6% of all taxi pickups, according to the TLC.

Over the course of the pilot test, the average success rate went to 63%, from a quarter of e-hails at the beginning in June 2013, according to the TLC.

Still, e-hailed trips made up less than half a percent of all taxi rides. Overall, 479,424 unique passengers requested a taxi via e-hailing, with 8,407 drivers making e-hailed trips. A new feature of the e-hail program is the ability to get a wheelchair accessible ride.

Added: 1.30.15

Hailo Submits Memorandum of Law Requesting to Renew and Reargue the BCAC’s TRO on E-Hail Program – Judge Upholds the Stay

Hailo, an e-hail technology company that was approved just one hour before Justice Freedman decided to reinstate the TRO freezing the TLC’s e-hail program, has had a busy week. First, after Justice Huff ruled in favor of the TLC uplifting the TRO freezing the program, Hailo started allowing rides through their app before receiving approval from the TLC.  The TLC had to issue an industry notice alerting drivers not to use Hailo, or any other unapproved app. On May 1st, Hailo was approved by the TLC to be a licensed e-hail app but before the celebration was able to begin, just one hour later, Justice Freedman reinstated the TRO on behalf of the BCAC and complaining parties, once again freezing the e-hail program. Who is the New York State Supreme Court to stop disruptive technology though?  Despite a court order and an industry notice issued by the TLC (below), Hailo and Uber both continued to provide e-hail rides. Today, Hailo decided to go a step further and submitted a motion with the courts requesting to life the stay on the TRO on the e-hail program.  (Click Here to Read Hailo’s Memorandum of LawJustice Freedman decided to uphold the stay which now remains in effect.  For the third time now, the New York State Supreme Court has told us, by issuing and upholding a TRO, that we have a real case that is about much more than what others have classified as “obstructing technology”.       To read more about how Hailo & Uber have ignored a court order and their regulator, the TLC, go read the New York Post’s story here. Added: 5.6.13

TLC Releases Industry Notice to Alert Industry that Another TRO Halts the E-Hail Pilot Program Once Again

TLC Industry Notice_TRO Halts Ehail   Added: 5.2.13

New E-Hail Taxi App is an E-Failure – At Least Until More Cabbie Get it: NY Daily News

e-failureNY Daily News: If you use the city’s first “e-hail” taxi app, you better have a hail of a lot of time on your hands. Daily News reporter Muhammad Ali and I spent the day testing whether Uber, the new cab-finding smartphone app, was as efficient as snagging a ride the old-fashioned way. It wasn’t even close. Ali, relying on nothing more than his right hand, hailed a cab an average of 12 minutes faster than me at four test locations. Uber launched its first full day of service Wednesday, a week after a lawsuit challenging such apps was tossed out. But an appeals court judge granted an emergency stay late Wednesday – slamming the brakes on the e-hail program, although it will likely be back on the road again.

So before the app was given the red light, our test revealed that it has a long way to go before normal street hails go the way of the subway token. In test after test of yellow cabs, Uber didn’t live up to its Supermanish name:- Standing outside the Daily News’ headquarters at 12:44 p.m., I plugged our Sixth Ave. address into the app, while Ali stepped into the street and flung out his arm.Instantly, I received a notification saying that a driver named Sayed was six minutes away.  I felt emboldened.But within 15 seconds, an available taxi rolled up, and Ali was gone.I was staring at my watch when I received a call from Sayed a few minutes later.He wanted to know which side of Sixth Ave. I was on.Sayed arrived on time at 12:50 p.m.”This is a great thing for me,” the affable Sayed Imam told me. “With this, I don’t need to look around. I can go straight to a passenger.”Ali’s driver, Aakbar Ali, held a very different view.”If I use (the app), I will lose time as passengers won’t wait for me,” Aakbar Ali said.- At Seventh Ave. and 30th St., Ali scored a cab within 30 seconds. I plugged the address into Uber and received a message saying a driver named Zafar was on his way.But three minutes later, I received a text bearing bad news: Zafar had canceled.”We can’t find an Uber for you at this time,” a subsequent text message read.I tried again and was informed that the apparently undecided Zafar was on his way.He arrived at 1:25 p.m., 11 minutes after my first try.- At E. Houston and Orchard Sts., Ali snared a cab with ease, in only four minutes.Seven minutes passed before a driver on Uber confirmed that he was on his on his way. I laughed when I saw his name and photo. It was Sayed again. I guess only a few hacks know that this program exists. Sayed showed up 15 minutes after my original request. – At our fourth and final location – Clark and Henry Sts. in Brooklyn Heights – Ali got a yellow cab in just two minutes. Meanwhile, my first six Uber requests were met with messages saying no cars are available. Finally, after 15 minutes, a driver named Nassar accepted my request. He showed up, apologetic, five minutes later. “It’s relatively new, so not a lot of guys have it yet,” said Nassar Ahmed. “But soon, you’re gonna see it everywhere.” For now, I guess I’ll just have to take his word for it.
Added: 5.2.13

Judge Halts Taxi E-Hailing A Day After Launch: Wall Street Journal

NEW YORK — Two days into the city’s experiment with taxi-summoning apps, e-hailing stalled Wednesday when a judge put the project on hold. The apps, challenged by car service owners, are now back in limbo for at least a few weeks. State Supreme Court Appellate Division Justice Helen Freedman ordered the e-hailing programs to stop until a panel of judges weighs the case and decides, expected later this month. The e-hail opponents, who say the program could ruin their livelihoods, are gratified, said their lawyer, Randy Mastro. The program “is so fundamentally flawed and illegal in so many ways. It had to be stopped,” he said by phone. City officials said they expected to prevail with what they see as an innovative option for snagging one of the city’s famous yellow cabs. “Taxi-hailing apps are not only good for the riding public but perfectly legal as well,” Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said in a statement. “You can’t stop progress, and these obstructionists shouldn’t be trying.” The judge’s order came a day after Uber Technologies launched its e-hail service in the city. A lower court had cleared the way just last week. The idea: Passengers use an app to request a ride, the request goes to all participating cabbies within a certain distance and the driver who responds first gets the fare. In December, the Taxi and Limousine Commission OK’d a yearlong test. Livery cab owners and groups sued, saying it was too broad to qualify as a test program and was unfair to them. Until now, yellow cabs haven’t been allowed to take pre-arranged fares. Car services depend on those because they can’t pick up passengers who hail cabs on streets. “We went to court to fight not only for our industry but for our system of checks and balances,” representatives for two of the groups, the Livery Round Table and the Black Car Assistance Corp., said in a statement. [emphasis added] The opponents also have said app-hailing could revive concerns about cabbies discriminating against passengers based on their race, whereabouts or destination and could make it difficult for people without smartphones, particularly senior citizens, to get taxis. Last week’s ruling reasoned that e-hails instead could spare seniors from walking far to get cabs and might lessen discrimination because drivers wouldn’t be able to see their fares when accepting them.

Added: 5.2.13

Minutes Before the TLC Approves their Second E-Hail Pilot Program Participant, BCAC Wins Appeal to Freeze the Pilot Program Once Again

N.Y. Taxi Smartphone Hail Program Said to Be BlockedNew York livery car groups won a bid to block a pilot program that would enable people to hail and pay for a ride in one of the city’s 13,000 yellow taxis using location-based smartphone applications. Put your taxi apps away New Yorkers, NYC’s smartphone hail program blocked again The ongoing saga around approving taxi hailing apps in New York City is beginning to resemble a wild ride in one of the city’s taxis. Judge halts NYC taxi ‘e-hails,’ a day after launch SF Gate NEW YORK (AP) — Hailing yellow cabs with smartphone apps is on hold in New York City a day after the experimental service began. Click Here to Read Our Appeal Papers Click Here to View the Emergency Appellate Application Click to Read the TLC’s Industry Notice Regarding Approval of Hailo’s E-Hail Application Added: 5.1.13

TLC Warns Against the Use of Unapproved E-Hail Pilot Program Apps After Hailo Starts Beta Testing Before Application Approval

Click Here to Read the TLC’s Industry Notice on the Use of Unapproved E-Hail Pilot Program Participant Apps Read more in this news clip: Hailo is running its ehail app service in NYC without TLC approval  Added: 4.30.13

TLC Announces First E-Hail Pilot Program Participant, Uber

Click Here to View the TLC Industry Notice Added: 4.29.13

Look What NYC Cabbie’s Had to Say About the E-Hail Program Getting the Green Light from the Courts

Click Here to Watch the Video Added: 4.26.13


Justice Huff Issues Ruling in Favor of E-Hailing Over Two Months After Black Car & Livery Industries File Lawsuit Against TLC’s E-Hail “Pilot Program”

Click Here to View the Judge’s Decision Judge OKs plan to test out letting NYC taxi passengers summon cabs  Washington Post NEW YORK — A judge says New York City can test out letting people hail yellow cabs via their smartphones. A Manhattan judge dismissed a lawsuit over the “e-hail” program Tuesday and lifted an order that temporarily stopped it. The city Taxi and  City gets green light for e-hail app for taxi riders New York Daily News Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Huff rejected legal arguments that the Taxi andLimousine Commission lacked the legal authority to launch a pilot program that would last 12 months and be restricted to Manhattan south of 59th St. “This decision is  Here Come the Taxi Apps for Yellow Cabs: New York Judge Dismisses  Betabeat The Livery Roundtable and the Black Car Assistance Corporation filed the lawsuit back in February, just as the TLC’s year-long experiment was scheduled to  Added: 4.23.13


After Appearing Before Our Fifth Judge, the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is Granted, Essentially Freezing the E-Hail Program.  Our Hearing Date is Set for March 19th, 11 AM!  Read Some of the News Coverage

Judge Puts Brakes On E-Hail Plan Allowing Taxi Riders to Hail Yellow Cabs With Smartphone App: New York Daily News N.Y. Livery Car Group Wins Bid to Halt Taxi Hail Program: Bloomberg  NYC Taxi E-Hail Program Delayed: Transportation Nation Judge Temporarily Blocks Cab Hailing by Smartphones: New York Times Added: 3.8.13


Livery Backed Councilmembers Object to ‘E-Hails’

On Valentine’s Day, members of the livery car industry filed suit against New YorkCity’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, charging that the Bloomberg administration had violated the law when it approved a one-year taxi app pilot program that would allow  Click here to read more.   Added: 3.6.13


BCAC and LRT Participate in Press Conference at City Hall with Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez and Elizabeth Crowley

Click here to read the Rodriguez – Crowley Press Release       Added: 3.6.13


Taxi Fleet Owners Siding with City in App Lawsuit


Wall Street Journal (blog) The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade will file as an intervener on the side of the city and the Taxi and Limousine Commission on Tuesday, joining a lawsuit in which the owners of black and livery car companies have tried to block the launch of … Click here to read more..  Lawsuit May Block NYC Taxi E-Hail Program Blog (blog) Anyone who has lived in New York City has been initiated into the unfortunate but necessary ritual known as hailing a cab. I’ve seen fights break out over who flagged down a cab first. Smartphone apps like Hailo, Uber, FlyWheel and Zabkab that let Click here to read more…  Added: 2.27.13


Mobile apps reshape urban taxi landscape


San Francisco-based Uber offers a mobile app connecting passengers and taxis in six cities, including Washington, and operates in 27 cities worldwide with a “black car” service, which it says costs more than taxis but less than comparable limousine … Click here to read more…  Added: 2.25.13



Judge told to get the hail off taxi case – New York Post

By: Jennifer Fermino A judge isn’t allowed to preside over the livery industry’s suit seeking to stop riders from hailing yellow cabs with their smartphones, according to court papers. The decision came after the judge hinted in a pre-trial hearing that he would rule against the city. It’s a major victory for City Hall, which had pushed the court to remove Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron from the case. Court administrators granted that request Wednesday. Engoron, a former yellow cabby, has ruled against several of Mayor Bloomberg’s high-profile initiatives in the past, including the creation of a special fleet of livery cabs that could accept street hails in the outer boroughs. The city is appealing that ruling. Judges are assigned to cases at random, unless it has to do with another case on their docket. In the latest lawsuit, lawyers for the livery industry categorized their case as related to the previous outer-borough taxi case — and Engoron was assigned the lawsuit. Engoron called the e-hail pilot program “illegal” in the initial hearing. Randy Mastro, the lawyer for the livery drivers, said he will appeal Engoron’s removal. “Why are they doing this besides blatant forum shopping?” said Mastro. “We’re going to win the case no matter who the judge is. But we’re going to fight what the city is doing because it’s so wrong and offensive.” Added: 2.23.13

BCAC President, Berj Haroutunian, Featured in Daily News Editorial

After a derogatory and misleading editorial was published in the Daily News on February 19th, the BCAC and LRT responded in order to set the record straight and clarify our position   Our letter to the editor was published on Friday, February 22, 2013 (see below).

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2013, 4:00 AM

Let’s do e-hail, but get it right   


Long Island City: The writers behind “Go to hail” (editorial, Feb. 19) have a total lack of understanding about the situation. The livery and black car industries do not oppose e-hail technology. In fact, our members developed a solution that was accepted by all stakeholders, including a majority of commissioners on the Taxi and Limousine Commission board. But the the TLC ignored it. With the apparent blessing of City Hall, the TLC decided to launch its own pilot e-hail program, ignoring years of legislation, regulations, administrative codes and City Council laws. Again! This is the kind of behavior we’d expect from a dictatorship. The TLC disregarded the fundamentals of the separation of powers, and your editorial blessed that. Fortunately, we still have the courts, and that is where we turned. Not only to protect our members, but to protect the process. Avik Kabessa, Livery Roundtable,  Berj Haroutunian, The Black Car Assistance Corp.   Added: 2.22.13


The TLC Passes an E-Hail Resolution Amendment

At the February 21, 2013 TLC Commission meeting, the TLC passed an amendment to their E-hail resolution.  Click here to read the e-hail amendment.  Added: 2.22.13


Donate to the FHV Legal Defense Fund

Our industry is about to enter a crisis mode as the TLC’s E-Hail “Pilot Program” goes into effect and places each and every FHV base in danger.  This “Pilot Program” allows taxicabs to do pre-arrangements, or take a reservation from a passenger using a smartphone app.  Allowing taxis to take a pre-arranged trip is just the first step in the unraveling and crippling of the for-hire vehicle industry.   This new pilot program allows ALL 49,353 yellow taxicab drivers to pick up pre-arranged e-hail rides in nearly ALL areas of the five boroughs.  This is an illegitimate “Pilot Program” that blurs the lines between the street hail and pre-arrangement, purposefully shifting rides away from your base and to the yellow cabs.  We must join together and ACT NOW to stop this pilot program or watch our businesses wither away! To stop this “Pilot Program” we must recruit the best of the best to put our best arguments forward.  WE ONLY HAVE ONE CHANCE to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction which would stop this pilot program from the beginning.  WE MUST PUT OUR BEST ARGUMENTS FORWARD AND BE PROPERLY REPRESENTED TO STOP THIS DEADLY “PILOT PROGRAM”. As an issue that imminently affects each and every base in the for-hire industry, we ask each and every one of you to reach into your pockets and contribute to the legal defense fund.  We have retained Mr. Randy Mastro of the Gibson Dunn law firm but we are still tens of thousands of dollars away from raising enough money to move forward with litigation.  The clock is ticking… We ask that you think carefully about what the value of your business is, the tireless effort you have put in to building your base, and the drivers and staff that rely on your business for their livelihoods.  This is an issue that cannot be ignored!!   We must act now – WE MUST ACT FAST!    We are asking EVERYBODY to contribute at least $20 per affiliated vehicle.  We must caution you that if we do not raise enough money soon, there will be dire consequences. Please think about the long term effects this will have on your businesses, the industry, and our city.  This is an investment in securing the future of the industry.  Send your checks, payable to BCAC, to 30 Wall Street, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10005 with the form (below). Legal Fund Donation Form Added: 1.31.13

TLC releases MOU for E-Hail Pilot Program Added: 1.23.12

Live and Let Livery Story The Daily News Writes about the “economic body blow” the TLC’s New E-Hail Pilot Program May Have on the Industry Added: 12.20.12


appy days aheadTLC Commissioner Yassky Interview on CNBC after E-Hail Pilot Program is Approved   Added: 12.14.12






Playbook Hail Mary 300 pxPost-Vote E-Hail Update

As you all well know, the BCAC has been endlessly fighting against the TLC’s hell bent mission to allow the use of smartphone apps to “e-hail”, or prearrange, a yellow taxi.  Luckily, the BCAC has a COO with almost a decade of TLC experience, unparalleled determination, and the wherewithal to unite representatives from each sector of the industry in order to build a strong alliance opposing the TLC proposed e-hail rules.  We have worked very closely with the Livery Roundtable, the Livery Base Owners (LBO), and the Luxury Base Operators Association (LBOA).  In recent weeks, we worked tirelessly with the livery and limousine industries, as well as lobbyists, to ensure that our concerns were fully understood.  Although the TLC was consistently unwilling to listen to us or to compromise, all five of the City Council appointed commissioners understood and supported our point of view.  They were unwilling to rush imposing rules that would most likely recreate the issues NYC faced in the 1980s, which resulted in the birth of our industry; risk harming two industries at the benefit of one; hurt small businesses; and endanger a regulatory framework that has successfully made NYC the home to the greatest ground transportation industry in the world.   We also gained support from several members of city council from various parts of the city, even receiving letters of support from eleven council members (see attached).  In an unprecedented event, all five of the City Council appointed commissioners were prepared to vote against the TLC’s rules as a block.  As it became more and more clear to the TLC that five of their nine commissioners and vocal members of the city council opposed their e-hail rules, the TLC was forced into an eleventh hour “Hail Mary” so to speak.  Late yesterday afternoon, TLC staff members scrambled to put together a “pilot program” that mirrored their rules under the guise of a compromise.  Concerned about our knowledge and influence, the TLC did not share any information about the pilot program proposal with the industry before the vote, providing for no transparency in their policy making and leaving us unable to address the specifics.  Regardless, in forcing the TLC away from permanent rulemaking, the industry has won a big battle and I would like to take a moment to thank Ira Goldstein for bringing together the coalition that made this exceptional achievement possible. That being said, our work is not done.  To the contrary, it is just beginning.  Unfortunately, many of the commissioners perceived a pilot program to be a compromise and the TLC had the votes to approve the program.  Now we must work to help shape the proposal in order to ensure that our industry is affected as little as possible.  Ira has used his contacts at the TLC to obtain a copy of their proposal and has indicated to the TLC that to avoid a lawsuit, we need a seat at the table.  Right now, we are carefully reviewing the resolution.  We will be consulting with counsel and will present options to the membership in the very near future. Added: 12.13.12

Dec 13 Commission MtgTLC’s Approved Resolution for a One-Year Pilot Program   Added: 12.13.12

Several City Council Members Listened to and Stood with the Industry in Opposition of the TLC’s Proposed E-Hail Rules – Click Below to See Each Letter

Council Member Garodnick’s Letter of Opposition to the E-Hail   Council Member Rose’s Letter of Opposition Council Member Sander’s Letter of Opposition Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s Letter of Opposition Council Member Gentile’s Letter of Opposition CM Sara Gonzalez’s Letter of Opposition Joint Letter of Opposition signed by 8 City Council Members Added: 12.13.12


Ira TesifyingBCAC COO, Ira Goldstein, Testifies at the TLC Hearing about their Proposed E-Hail Rules

Click to Read Ira’s 11.29.12 Testimony Added: 11.29.12


Unified Industry

Click Below to Read the Letter Sent to All TLC Commissioners from a United Industry in Opposition to the TLC’s Proposed E-Hail Rules

Letter from a United Industry Added: 11.29.12


 TLC Puts Proposed E-Hail Rules Online   Added: 10.29.12


BCAC Delivers Comprehensive White Paper to TLC to Highlight Issues Associated with the Integration of App Technology in the Industry

iPhone The BCAC responded the an opportunity by the TLC to clarify our position on the highly controversial topic of integrating Smartphone Apps into the industry by drafting a comprehensive white paper which lays out the core of the problem that the industry faces and can serve as both an educational document as well as a starting point for drafting rules on how to successfully regulate this new technology.   Our paper was made part the record for the recent joint Transportation and Technology Committees for a City Council Oversight Hearing. Added 8.20.12