Taxi commission approves a test-run for smartphone-hails

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Today, New York City's taxi commission voted to approve a year-long pilot program that will allow New Yorkers to hail cabs using apps on their iPhones or Androids.

For months, taxi-app developers like Hailo, GetTaxi and Uber have been pressuring New York City to allow so-called "e-hailing," but the necessary rule change has encountered significant opposition from livery and black car companies, who regarded it as an incursion into their exclusive pre-arranged service territory.

Yesterday, Taxi commissioner David Yassky told Capital that, rather than continuing to push his plan to make such apps permanently legal, he would endorse a one-year pilot program.

"People have legitimate concerns about how it's going to affect their businesses," Yassky told me. "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."

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According to someone who attended this morning's Taxi and Limousine Commission hearing, New Yorkers will be able to use their phones to hail cabs within a half-mile radius in Manhattan south of 59th Street, and within a 1.5-mile radius in the rest of the city.