back to article App gap flap: New York's e-cabbies FOILED AGAIN

Hipsters hoping to hail a yellow cab with their smartphone app are going to be disappointed again as a last-minute injunction has limited the deployment of e-hailing taxicab apps Uber and Hailo in the Big Apple. The deployment was nominally a trial, but few thought it wouldn't foreshadow a launch which would see Uber and Hailo …


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  1. Turtle


    "Challenging the New York launch, the incumbent operators claimed smartphone-based services would permit drivers to reject hails from places they didn't want to go, or from people with foreign-looking names."

    Perhaps they didn't notice but most of the cab-drivers in New York have "foreign-looking names" and in fact, not only do they have "foreign-looking names" but they look pretty "foreign" themselves - a fact that can be corroborated by anyone who had been to New York City in the last 30 years and who noted that a large percentage if not most of New York City's cabs are owned and/or operated by immigrants.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Foreign.

      "from people with foreign-looking names"

      What's that? Sorry, mate, native indjuns only. You sound a bit irish to me.

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Foreign.

        So perhaps "foreign to the cabby"

  2. Andrew Moore

    Hailo, is it me you're looking for...

    None of the Hailo drivers have copped on to why I call them Master Chief.

    1. Turtle

      Re: Hailo, is it me you're looking for...

      Hai-la, Hai-la Hailo-a.


  3. Babbit55

    De Ja Vu?

    Could this just be another case of another aging model trying to stay the hand of technological advances in a digital age?

    1. Tom 35

      Re: De Ja Vu?

      If I was running a cab I don't know if I'd be to happy with a service that takes a cut off the top for your customers. It''s not costing the customers anything, and if it becomes popular enough what's to stop them upping their cut till they make more then you do from a fare?

      1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

        Re: De Ja Vu?

        @Tom 35: This is essentially the current model, anyway. Most US cab drivers rent taxi medallions from cab companies, meaning that the drivers owe a flat rate per month. At least Uber only takes a cut of the actual fare!

        1. Fatman

          Re: De Ja Vu?

          However, Uber most likely takes a cut first, then the medallion holder takes their cut; the driver has to pay for gas, etc, and may end up with shit after working all day.

          If the cab operators really wanted embrace change, and keep more of the proceeds, they should have an app created that funnels calls directly into their dispatch centers, bypassing Uber and its competitors.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: De Ja Vu?

            Then the driver wouldn't contract with Uber, right?

            "If the cab operators really wanted embrace change"

            Did you read the article?

            The "syndicates of vested interests" do not DO change.

            1. Throatwobbler Mangrove Silver badge

              Re: De Ja Vu?

              yeah, but that's not cab operators (neither drivers nor mediallion owners nor fleet companies) that is being referred to. It's black car/limo companies.

              TBH this article is a bit of a dog's breakfast - trying to explain NYC licensing by comparison to London licensing is redundant and misleading.

        2. Cliff

          Re: De Ja Vu?

          I spoke with a driver using Hailo, it added upto £200/week to his pocket he reckoned. Seems a decent deal all round.

      2. MrZoolook

        Re: De Ja Vu?

        Quote from article: "Where Uber operates with existing cabs it only charges the metered fare, plus 20 per cent gratuity naturally ("Being Uber means there is no need to tip" says the company, prior to noting that detail)"

        I read this as "There is a charge of %20 of the meter fare added on top of the meter, and that is Uber's fee."

        If the 'gratuity' (which really should be at the passengers discretion) becomes part of the fare and is non negotiable (as the wording seems to indicate) it isn't a gratuity... its a fee.

  4. FanMan

    I've really enjoyed using Hailo in London: fare goes straight on to my CC, I have the cabbie's ID and mobile no., (great for women), I can sit and wait in comfort instead of dancing around on the kerb in the rain.

    I probably take cabs more often with Hailo.

    BUT - cabbies don't appear to be obliged to accept the Hailo offered jobs so at feeding-frenzy times and places you could wait a while.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > BUT - cabbies don't appear to be obliged to accept the Hailo offered jobs so at feeding-frenzy times and places you could wait a while.

    This would have to be an important distinction otherwise the objectors would have a valid point about customers trying to get a cab that are not registered with the service. In other words, if Uber and Hailo get really popular, then that would really be the end of ever hoping to hail a cab during peak times in the traditional way since these services essentially would keep the cabs perpetually busy.

    1. P. Lee

      Creative Destruction?

      If the system becomes wildly popular, there will be pressure for cabbies to commission their own software and cut out the services which take a cut.

      How difficult could it be to create something which punts your GPS location onto google maps and invites a cabbie to respond? Funnel it through gateway which logs the details (cabbie number, customer number) and records the voip stream and off you go. Delete the voip after a month unless a complaint has been made. Or you could just gps track not-in-use and soon-to-be not-in-use cabs, overlay on gmaps and let punters click to talk to one.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Creative Destruction?

        One slight flaw in your plan: cabbies conceiving software.

  6. oddie

    which class would that be then?

    "The existing operators also argued that an underclass without smartphones will be unable to travel once every yellow cab is busy answering an electronic summons."

    presumably the class of people who can't afford 30 quid a month on a smartphone contract, but can easily afford spend half of that on a 15 min journey getting from A to B?

    Of course, they WILL lose out on those that choose not to have a smartphone but who have enough mollah to be driven around... i guess those poor souls will just have to take hackneys from then on... the very thought :(


    I actually use my real foreign type name all the time when i phone for a taxi... and never had any problems... its short, easy to pronounce, and I don't have to get into fisticuffs with the other 3 'smiths' also waiting for a taxi.

    1. Stratman

      Re: which class would that be then?

      "presumably the class of people who don't want to pay 30 quid a month on a smartphone contract, but can easily afford spend half of that on a 15 min journey getting from A to B?"

      I have a £5 per month contract without data, as I use my phone for making phone calls and, er, that's it.

      It can be done, you know.

  7. Dan Paul

    Taxi Licenses and resulting Medallions are State Sponsored Monopoly's operated by the Mob

    Since NYC is one of the most politically and physically corrupt cities in the world, how could anyone think that there is not an ulterior motive for them denying the use of various apps to call a cab?

    In order to even get a medallion, one not only has to pay a portion of the fare but a huge bribe to the people that hold the main francise. Let's not even discuss the actual cost of the medallion itself. There are no main francises available and they will never become available to the "public".

    The cost of two unrestricted taxi medallions in March 2013 was $2.42 MILLION DOLLARS.

  8. Efros

    There is also the generation of a paper trail for income that some of the less scrupulous i.e. money laundering taxi companies will avoid at any cost.

  9. Herby

    Underclass of cell phone lacking people...

    Not hardly. The phone people hawk more phones to those people that you would imagine. They make lots of $$$ on the process.

  10. An(other) Droid

    " Indeed, the London cabbies fought against minicab regulation as they had the (often justified) fear that it would, er, drive customers away from licensed minicabs and into their vehicles instead."

    Wait... what?!

    1. A Man From Bras

      My thoughts exactly.

  11. wim

    share a drive app ?

    I have this idea for a long time where private people would share their cars. Couch surfing for cars basically.

    The driver uses his navigation on his smartphone to calculate the route. Then publishes this route and gives a parameter of detour willing to take (say 500 meters).

    If you need a ride you enter your destination and send this with your current coordinates and how far you are willing to walk/travel on your own (say 300 m) to the server where all the routes are published. The app checks if there is someone driving close to your position and matches you up.

    The passenger pays a fee for every ride (distance based) and the driver gets 50% or another percentage.

    Of course if something like this would happen I guess all taxi companies would be howling.

    You will need good authentication and I don't think a lot of people would be comfortable letting strangers into their car. Some good security would be needed.

    1. Anomalous Cowturd

      Re: share a drive app ?

      Don't forget that taking passengers for money, in other than work type "car share" arrangements is a whole new insurance nightmare.

      Don't even think about it...


    2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Re: share a drive app ?

      You would need Private Hire insurance, as standard car insurance does not cover paying passengers.

  12. Arachnoid

    share a drive app

    It would end up like any other bus route which goes from A to B via Z,X and Y that all but one passenger wishes to go to.

    Wouldn't it make more sense both economically,time wise and CO2wise if the app flagged the nearest taxi no matter who they worked for,in other words direct communication not via a third party?

  13. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Why would anyone use an app for that?

    I am happy to see more choice for consumers, and more competition among service providers. At the same time, I have difficulty to imagine an app being simpler or more efficient than just calling for a cab. If it is, as implied, more expensive as well (app makers taking a cut off the top, which must be rolled on to the customer), why is it attractive? Apart from being hip, that is...

    1. Cliff

      Re: Why would anyone use an app for that?

      Having used Hailo in London, being able to hail a cab to a backstreet location, 5minutes free waiting time, having the drivers name and phone number, billed directly to my credit card with a receipt emailed to me moments later, I assure you the efficiency is there!

  14. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    But...those inspections, they cost! And it's a good investment, dude. Credit is easy, too.

    Your face when a NYC taxi license ACTUALLY sets you back 1'000'000 USD:

    Taken for a Ride

    Don't tell me this biz isn't "regulated" for the Politicians and the Mafia.

  15. david 12 Silver badge

    When I was a lad...

    When I was a lad, i could step out to the corner near my home and hail a cab. If he didn't stop, he would call in the job and one of the other drivers would come by and pick me up.

    Within a few years (quite suddenly, modern dispatch system), that changed. Drivers never called in jobs. One of them explained to me that the the dispatch companies (now only 3) would not take jobs called in by drivers, since they only got their cut from telephone bookings.

    It is now the case in my city that, apart from a few cab ranks at the city hotels at the right time of day, and a few major roads a night (cabs returning to the city after taking punters out to the suberbs), it is not possible to hail a cab.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: When I was a lad...

      It's also no longer possible to make money driving one. (few exceptions noted)

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. M Gale


    So an injunction, on a single-button version of going *taptaptaptap* "Yeah mate, I'm on 23rd street. 8 minutes? See you there."


  18. Number6

    For the London Market

    What they need is a little clip-on device that fits on the spike on the end of a rolled-up brolly so that when the wielder waves it appropriately, it signals the nearest suitable cab.

  19. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

    The linked article makes an excellet case against the medallion system. However, it seems to me this is a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situation. Here's the situation here in Iowa City:

    1) First, we had very little regulation. For years we had Yellow Cab, Big 10, and a handful of small cab companies (a few with a few cars and a few others that were actually one person with a cell phone and car.) When the economy really started to crap out a few years ago, EVERYBODY realized cab driving was easy money -- in a town with 50,000 people (30,000 students and 20,000 natives or so), we ended up with *27* cab companies. This made it more difficult to make money of course. But, even with that glut, it still proved impossible to get a useful cab ride after 2AM -- I tried to get a friend of mine a cab, and there were so many drunk students willing to hail a cab to haul them like 4 or 5 blocks that the cabs just loop between downtown and within 4 or 5 blocks of downtown; in over an hour, no cab would give a ~2 mile cab ride, so they finally had to drive home.

    2) Solution? The city now requires the operators to have a landline and 24/7 service. (I dont know the landline requirement would hold up in court, since laws requiring a single vendor are illegal and we have a landline monopoly here, unlike most of the US), stricter insurance requirements, and so on. This was intended to eliminate the guys(/chicks) that just had a cell phone and a vehicle operating as a cab. What *really* happened? On paper, over a dozen cab companies went away but in reality, the number of cabs barely reduced at all, most of these cab companies all merged as "Big 10 Aardvark". Quite simply, the businessman who got organized first now collects $700 a month insurance plus $700 a month or so "service fees" to let cabs legally claim they are operating out of his office and dispatch number. But, in reality they will probably not get a single dispatch and actually use their own cell phones to get calls. Essentially, this didn't reduce competition much at all while raising expenses. And of course it's still impossible to get a cab after 2AM.

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