NYC might launch a smartphone app that summons taxis [updated]

Flagging down a taxi in New York City can be a pain sometimes, so it’s no surprise that the Empire State is looking to ease the stress. A pilot program headed by New York City Taxi and the Limousine Commission announced today that it will vote on usage of a smartphone apps that’ll summon taxis.

Commission Chairman, David Yassky, acknowledged that “Bringing apps into New York would be a change in the way people get taxis.” Adding, “It makes sense to see how that pans out and see if any of the supposed problems with that materialize before you make it permanent.”

This type of innovation is nothing new for this state. In the summer, NYC started testing a smartphone-based ticketing system for the Metro-North Railroad. Therefore, it would allow people who catch the train daily to have the option to both buy and display train tickets through a free app available for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry.

The taxi pilot program is a great idea. However, the smartphone app will have certain restrictions like users only being able to call taxis that are close by. A limitation like this could appease for-hire vehicles that see the app as hurting their business and they would also lessen the number of empty cabs that pass would-be customers.

Regardless, New York realizes that something needs to be done to make catching taxis a much smoother and enjoyable experience. As a result, the New York City Taxi and the Limousine Commission is putting their heads together to see what can be done.

UPDATE: The vote was 7-0, with two commissioners abstaining. So the pilot program is a go!

[New York Times; via cnet]



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