Uber & Lyft Would See Stiff Competition from Fleet of Yellow and Green Cabs Under Proposal from Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez and Council Member Ben Kallos
Decimated by the Pandemic, Taxi Cab Drivers Offered a Life Line with “Universal eHail App”
New “Universal eHail App” & Open API Would Increase Competition and Allow Drivers to Accept eHails without Uber or Lyft
New York, NY – Following Tuesday’s $200 million victory in California for Uber and Lyft re-classifying drivers from employees with a minimum wage and health care back to independent contractors with neither, lawmakers in New York City are re-introducing legislation for a “Universal eHail App” to allow any cab driver to accept eHails through a municipal app and open API. Under legislation proposed by New York City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez and Council Member Ben Kallos, riders would be able to electronically hail 16,591 yellow and green cabs together with 120,000 for hire vehicles from a single municipal app or using third party apps. The legislation originally proposed in 2014 before a string of more than 8 taxi driver suicides seeks to empower them over app companies and level the playing field.
The pandemic has drastically reduced the number of trips per day from 750,000 for ehails and 231,000 for yellow and greens to 144,000 and 9,000 at their lower point but as of June, only ehails have rebounded to more than 250,000.
“We need to provide the tools necessary for taxi drivers to remain competitive and affordable to New Yorkers. The Universal eHail app would expand on the existing eHail apps and ensure all yellow and green cabs are included,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee. “The Novel Coronavirus has financially impacted the lives of countless taxi drivers. We are working against the clock. The City must catch up to this ever-changing industry. I will be working closely with Council Member Ben Kallos, Speaker Johnson, and my colleagues at the Council to provide taxi drivers with the resources they need to thrive
“We need to make it easier to catch a cab with one app on your phone that will even reduce the time you wait for the nearest vehicle. Our yellow and green cab drivers come from communities of color who were killing themselves before the pandemic which only decimated them,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, a software developer who used his expertise to come up with the initial information architecture for a universal eHail app and open API. “Imagine if Alexander Graham Bell took a 30% of every purchase you made over the telephone he invented. Government has a responsibility to provide a level playing field for competition, whether through street hails, the telephone, or now open APIs.”
In the years since introduction two ehail apps have emerged for yellow and green cabs called Arro and Curb that allow you to electronically hail only a portion of the fleet, while this legislation would put the entire fleet of 16,591 vehicles at a riders finger tips.
The Universal E-Hail App, mandated by legislation that Council Member Kallos has sponsored, has benefits for all stakeholders:
- Riders would get the ability to e-hail as many of the 16,591 yellow and green cabs that choose to participate, using either a free NYC branded app or any participating app they already use like Uber or Lyft with the guarantee of a metered fare.
- Yellow Cabs and Green Cab Drivers would be able to pick up e-hails from any app through an upgrade to their current Taxicab Passenger Enhancement Program (TPEP) and Livery Passenger Enhancement Program (LPEP) equipment. Green cabs would still be restricted to only picking up e-hails north of East 96th St. and West 110th St. inside Manhattan as well as in the other four boroughs.
- TLC would receive all ride and payment information already received and reported from the TPEP/LPEP system in order to provide a safe ride and analyze the data.
- Third Party Applications such as Uber or Lyft that might participate would have to display all available yellow or green cabs, provide a metered fare, and would be restricted from influencing a rider to use a non-medallion vehicle.
The Universal E-Hail App is also an optimal way to promote:
- Competition - allowing medallion owners to compete fairly in the e-hail marketplace.
- Vision Zero – safer driving with fewer distractions from current situation of multiple phones and hail apps running simultaneously.
- Consumer Protection - Standard metered fare rates for cab rides would remain without “surge pricing.”
- Passenger Safety - Safe yellow and green taxis overseen by the TLC would be available conveniently.
- Availability – As many as 13,587 yellow cabs and 3,004 green cabs (street hail liveries) would be able to participate, making them available through the all apps. It would be easier to e-hail one on any app of choice.
- Revenue - More revenue would be generated for the city.
- Environment – Fewer miles would need to be driven in order to find a fare, lowering fuel consumption and carbon impact between rides.
- Accessibility - Disabled passengers would be able to find accessible vehicles through e-hail, a feature currently unavailable from existing e-hail apps.