4:04 pm Dec. 12, 2012
Taxi and Limousine Commission chairman David Yassky is backing off the city's bid to allow New Yorkers to hail taxis by smartphone, saying instead that a one-year pilot program is "a better idea."
A pilot is "better than doing it as a permanent rule," Yassky told me this afternoon in a phone interview.
"People have legitimate concerns about how it's going to affect their businesses," said Yassky, of taxi apps, which would have allowed New Yorkers to hail cabs by tapping their iPhones and Androids, rather than by simply waving their hands in the air. "And if some people's fears turn out to be true, then the government should revisit it. A pilot is a way to ensure the city revisits it."
Tomorrow, instead of voting on the proposed rules, issued in October and available here, the commission is expected to vote on a one-year pilot program instead.
Yassky did not always seem so open to compromise.
In today's Daily News, he argued, "When new technology comes along, we should embrace it."
But while taxi app developers like Hailo and GetTaxi have been vying to break into the New York City market for months now, and have clamored for a change in the rules, some livery companies argue that the technology represents an incursion into their exclusive segment of the bifurcated taxi and limousine market. In New York City, yellow cabs are allowed to pick up street hails, and liveries are allowed to provide pre-arranged service.
Livery and black car companies worry that customers would no longer call them for cars, if they could pre-arrange cabs through smartphone apps instead.
In today's op-ed, Yassky dismisssed such concerns, arguing that "just as the purpose of government regulation mustn’t be to push customers from one business to another, neither should regulators stop customers from picking one business over another."
His more moderated tone is a reflection of a political reality: he didn't have enough votes to pass the rules permanently.
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