Smartphone Apps Will Soon Hail NYC Cabs
City taxi commission testing new service
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 13, 2012 5:39 PM CST
File photo of a New York City taxi driver.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(Newser) – Raising your arm and yelling "taxi!" is the old-fashioned way to nab a New York City cab. Soon, all you'll need is a smartphone app. New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission today approved a pilot program allowing riders to "e-hail" yellow cabs, starting Feb. 15 on a test basis. Until now, the city has banned yellow taxis from prearranging rides. "We should not ignore technology that's out there," said Commissioner David Yassky. "This is not speculative. This is real."

The system will be tried out for one year. After the free apps start linking customers with drivers in mid-February, the commission will produce quarterly reports on the program's success, leading to a decision on whether to extend it. Here's how it works: A potential fare uses the app to request a ride. That request goes out to all participating cabbies within a certain distance, and the cabbie who uses his or her own cellphone to respond first will get the fare.