A Manhattan lawmaker is introducing legislation Monday that would require the city to launch a universal e-hail app for yellow and green cabs — the latest salvo against app-based taxi services like Uber.
City Council Member Ben Kallos says such an app would make the old-time, hand-hail yellow and green cabs significantly more competitive against the newer car service firms.
“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, who’s also a software developer.
“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.”
Last month, Council Member David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) introduced a bill that would limit Uber’s so-called surge pricing — which hike rates during bad weather or peak hours — to twice the regular rate.
The firm defends its pricing by noting that 80 percent of the rates go to drivers. Uber also recently agreed to abolish surge pricing during emergencies and natural disasters in New York.
The bill Kallos is proposing would order the Taxi & Limousine Commission, which regulates the city’s 13,000-plus yellow cabs and thousands of green cabs, to contract out or create the new app.
The measure would incorporate firms like Uber and Lyft into one interface for drivers – so that they wouldn’t have to check countless apps at once.
However, firms like Uber would be prohibited from surge pricing if their users are matched to yellow and green cabs.
The current app-based companies would also be barred from steering riders away from yellow and green cabs if they’re the closest match.
Kallos said the e-hail initiative would have a number of benefits – including allowing disabled passengers to be matched with accessible vehicles for the first time.
He said green cabs would still be restricted to the outer boroughs and north of E. 96th or W. 110th streets in Manhattan.
Representatives for Uber and the TLC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.