Taxi riders will have more opportunities to hail a cab with a touch of a button instead of a frantic wave of a hand.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission on Thursday expanded its e-hail program, opening opportunities for companies to make new apps that will get the attention of yellow and green taxi drivers, even if they're around a corner.
"We believe the e-hail rules we passed today provide everything necessary to create competition and give passengers the protections and service they deserve," said TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg.
These rides will still cost whatever the meter says and apps would be allowed to give passengers the ability to pay through their smartphones, though that feature must be compatible with the back-seat payment equipment, according to the TLC rules.
Councilman Ben Kallos backed the TLC's new e-hail rules while pressing for his legislation to have New York City create its own e-hail app to compete with companies such as Uber, which put a $2 booking fee on e-hails of taxis last month. Kallos' bill would cap these fees and require e-hail apps to display all available yellow and green taxis. Fromberg declined to comment on Kallos' idea for an NYC e-hail app.
"For 8.4 million New Yorkers, plus all those who may travel here, they need to be able to have a single app that can be used, regardless of whether or not third parties choose to build it," Kallos said.
Josh Mohrer, Uber's manager in New York City, backed the TLC's program to bring in new e-hail apps "that will encourage innovation, provide options for consumers, and create economic opportunities for drivers."
The pilot started with a small group of apps including Uber and Curb, formerly Taxi Magic. The apps were mostly used in areas where yellow taxis are hard to find. Nearly two-thirds of trips hailed with a smartphone app started north of 110th Street in Manhattan or in outer boroughs, whereas those areas represented 6% of all taxi pickups, according to the TLC.
Over the course of the pilot test, the average success rate went to 63%, from a quarter of e-hails at the beginning in June 2013, according to the TLC.
Still, e-hailed trips made up less than half a percent of all taxi rides. Overall, 479,424 unique passengers requested a taxi via e-hailing, with 8,407 drivers making e-hailed trips. A new feature of the e-hail program is the ability to get a wheelchair accessible ride.