Go Ahead NYC, Hail a Cab With Your Smartphone

By Ivan Pentchoukov, The Epoch Times
June 6, 2013 3:53 pm Last Updated: June 9, 2013 1:07 am

NEW YORK—It’s official. You can now hail a cab with your smartphone in New York City. A restraining order against the e-hail program was lifted on June 6 by the state supreme court. Three apps have already been authorized by the city to accept hail requests from smartphones: Uber, Hailo, and TaxiMagic. The city is approving more apps as they apply.

The Epoch Times hailed a taxi using the Hailo app from West 28th St. and 8th Ave. The app provided an estimated arrival time—six minutes—as well as the name of the driver and the medallion number for the taxi.

The app displays the taxi’s location in real time as it approaches the pick-up location. There is an option to call the driver, and the app advises calling the driver if you need to cancel the hail. The driver called one minute before arriving to check which side of the avenue he should stay on for the pick-up.

The Hailo and other apps work by linking yellow taxi drivers with passengers via a smartphones. There is one version of the app for taxi drivers and another version for passengers. A driver logs in using his or her license number as well as the medallion number of the cab. When a passenger requests a pickup, nearby taxis are alerted and can choose to accept or reject the pick-up request.

“It works great late at night and early in the morning,” said Mohammed R., a yellow taxi driver who accepted the e-hail request. “During the day, it’s not as useful. There are so many people looking for a ride already.”

Mohammed said that the app has been working for him for 15 days. He said that the last three passengers he picked up using the app were all going to the airport early in the morning and late at night. Mohammed noted that at those times people have trouble hailing cabs since there are fewer cabs out on the streets.

Although many other yellow taxis were on 8th Ave. at the time of the e-hail, not one was using the Hailo app, as could be seen on the app’s taxi tracker. The driver who accepted the e-hail was on 24th St. and Broadway at the time of the request. The Uber e-hail app appears to have more yellow taxi users compared to Hailo.

To verify the identity and authenticity of the drivers, the Hailo app uses medallion numbers and taxi driver license numbers. Passengers have to verify their cell phone numbers in order to register.

With e-hail apps on the rise, the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA) issued an advisory warning users against potential “rogue” apps which operate outside the local regulatory framework. Currently, only Hailo, Uber, and TaxiMagic are approved by the city administration.

The Hailo app will soon feature an option to pay directly via smartphone, but a spokesperson with New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission said that the app developers would have to apply for a separate permit before going forward.

The developers of the Hailo app did not return a request for comment.