NYC Councilman Proposes E-Hail App To Allow Taxis To Compete With Uber And Lyft

December 9, 2014 | Prachi Gupta

New York City councilmembers are pretty pissed with Uber, so it’s not incredibly surprising that one councilman has proposed a free taxi e-hail app that would compete with private companies like Uber and Lyft.

Councilman Ben Kallos has proposed legislation that would allow New Yorkers to e-hail yellow and green cabs without worrying about surge pricing, a practice in which private companies increase fares during peak demand. “City taxis need an app of their own to compete, and New Yorkers need to be able to get a cab in the rain without having to worry about surge pricing, said Kallos in a press release.

But that’s not to say that the app will try to edge out Uber or Lyft. Instead, it’s meant to update the technology that taxis use in order to compete with the new services. The app, which would be “created and contracted by the Taxi & Limousine Trade Commission,” would not “alter existing apps and would also allow for any third party app like Uber or Lyft to e-hail yellow and green cabs.” It would be open to the 1,900 or cabs that operate in New York City, which have seen a drop in value since Uber and Lyft set up shop.

“New York City must support our tech sector: Instead of making new technologies illegal, or regulating them out of business, we should provide a level playing field with fair competition so that companies, drivers and riders all win,” said Kallos, who is a software engineer.

Other American cities, like Chicago and Washington D.C., are looking into similar efforts. Kallos’s plan has the backing of taxi owners, Capital New York reports, but may stall in its efforts because Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration doesn’t support it. Writes Capital, “The city is expected to make its pilot e-hail program permanent and has already extended the test trial phase.”

(Photo: Jazz Guy)