What’s so unreasonable about using smartphones to arrange a taxi ride? Uber, an application which allows prospective riders to arrange rides with “black car” sedans or conventional taxis using their iPhones, arrived in New York this week — but the city bureaucrats have already fired a warning shot across Uber’s bow.
The New York Times stated this week that Uber’s application might break up to eleven different rules of the city’s taxi code. Now, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has formally warned taxi drivers not to use the Uber app.
Is this yet another head of the distracted-driving-fad Hydra? Not at all. This time, it’s money, not safety, at risk:
Existing contracts the TLC has with fare payment processors prohibits the use of apps to pay taxi and livery fares. The contract is set to expire in February. The TLC is, however, looking at ways to improve hailing and paying for taxis.
The TLC submitted a request for proposal in March of this year. According to the RFP, the TLC wants “a software developer that will create a smartphone application for use in for-hire vehicles. In the past, developers have created stand-alone apps without coordination with service providers or regulators. The TLC aims to take a new approach by contracting with a developer to create an app with one or more functions that would enhance the city’s for-hire vehicle services and improve both customer and driver experiences.”
Why go through the trouble of paying to have a taxi-hailing application developed when there are already companies begging to provide the service? Well, in New York, anything is possible when profit is at stake. Remember, this is the city that decided to make a vaporware Nissan the Taxi Of Tomorrow. Just don’t try to use the iPhone of today to hail it.