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NYC May Welcome Back Taxi Apps--But There's a Catch

Proposed regulation changes could bring back e-hailing taxi apps to New York City. But start-ups like Uber would have to comply with some stiff rules.


Courtesy Company

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Uber may have a second chance in New York, after all.

The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission proposed regulations Monday that would allow smartphone taxi apps to operate in the city insofar as the TLC has licensed them. The change comes only two weeks after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick ended his company's mobile taxi service in New York because of regulatory challenges.

Under the new proposal, licensed e-hail apps with any business model will be permitted to market themselves to drivers, according to a TLC press release. App licenses will span one year with the option to renew at the end of the term.

But the proposals come with a caveat: The e-hail apps will need to comply with fares set by the city’s Taxicab Passenger Enhancements Project (TPEP). So mobile taxi start-ups including Uber, Hailo, and Get Taxi will be required to charge strictly by the meter and not add any bonus fare for the app developer. Any tips given to the cab driver may be determined only by the rider.

In addition, TPEP terminals, which cost as much as $7,500, may not even be compatible with smartphone devices, according to The Verge. But the TLC added in its press release that “the rules package will also structure the means for apps to interface with the TPEPs in taxicabs.” Existing payment processing contracts with TPEP manufacturers will expire in February.

“We welcome feedback from the taxi and car service industries on how taxi-hail apps can best supplement the existing service models so that we can... get apps on passengers' smartphones by early next year,” TLC Commissioner David Yassky said in a statement.

A public hearing for the proposed changes is scheduled to take place on November 29 with a vote by the TLC on December 13.

IMAGE: Flickr Creative Commons
Last updated: Oct 30, 2012

MATTHEW WONG is a digital journalist whose work has also appeared in Dow Jones VentureWire and The Wall Street Journal.
@mlcwong




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