This company wants you to hail and pay for a cab with your phone
By the end of the year, city commuters could be able to get -- and pay for -- a taxi with a few taps of a cellphone.
Smartphone app company GetTaxi, which is already being used by passengers in England, Russia and Israel, is announcing its plans today to bring the free service to New York over the next few months.
Jing Wang Herman, who has a taxi license and is heading the company's launch in the U.S., said she hopes to bring a "taxi revolution to New York." The app is being submitted this month to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, which is looking for a way to let riders pay their bill using a phone.
Herman said the service is like a digital dispatcher: people open the app, click to hail a nearby cab -- you can also request a handicap or hybrid car -- and then watch how far away it is on a map using GPS. Riders can also find friends or strangers to share -- and split -- the fare.
Current rules only allow yellow cabs to accept street hails, and liveries can offer prearranged calls. A plan to legalize street hails outside Manhattan was halted by a judge last week.
Herman said she expects cabbies to welcome the service, even though they have to pay the company a fee.
"If you can just have the ability to see around the corner and not miss that passenger, I think that makes all the difference in the world to drivers," she said.
A spokesman for the TLC said it would consider "anything that they thought was a new, innovative use of technology in taxi cabs," but said he could not comment on the company's proposal.