NYC cabs could get app to compete with Uber, Lyft

by admin, February 5, 2015

If Uber can disrupt the taxi business, perhaps the taxis can also upend Uber.

A Manhattan lawmaker introduced legislation Monday to require the city to launch a universal e-hail app for yellow and green cabs ??? the latest salvo against app-based taxi services like Uber.

Councilman Ben Kallos (D) says such an app would make yellow and green cabs more competitive against the newer, tech-savvy services.

???City taxis need an app of their own to compete, and New Yorkers need to be able to get a cab in the rain without having to worry about surge pricing,??? said Kallos, who is also a software developer.

???New York City must support our tech sector. Instead of making new technologies illegal or regulating them out of business, we should provide a level playing field with fair competition so that companies, drivers and riders all win.???

Last month, Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) introduced a bill to limit Uber???s surge pricing ??? in which rates are hiked during bad weather and peak hours ??? to twice the normal rate.
Uber defends its pricing by noting 80 percent of the rates go to drivers.

It said Kallos??? bill is unnecessary because green- and yellow-cab drivers already use Uber???s app and don???t charge surge prices.

Kallos??? bill would order the Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates the city???s yellow and green cabs, to contract out or create the new app.

The measure would incorporate services like Uber and Lyft into one interface for drivers so they wouldn???t have to check multiple apps.

However, surge pricing would be banned if passengers are matched to yellow and green cabs.

The app-based companies would also be barred from steering riders away from yellow or green cabs.

The TLC said it was open to new technology.

???We???ve had a very successful e-hail pilot program with a number of qualified participants, which has been serving passengers well,??? spokesman Allan Fromberg said.