Legality of taxi-hailing app questioned in New York
Hailing a taxi cab in New York City can be frustrating, a city where there are just many taxis as there are pedestrians. A smartphone app tries to make hailing cabs easier for New Yorkers.
Uber allows available taxi drivers and cab-seeking commuters to find one another. Riders download the app, while Uber provides taxi drivers Uber-installed smartphones.
For the cabbies, the app predicts the areas where rides are in high demand. Commuters, meanwhile, request for a pickup via the app and notifies taxi drivers who are nearest to them. The drivers are given 15 seconds to respond. Once a driver accepts a ride through the app, no other passenger can be picked up.
Uber began its operations this week with 105 cabs, which is less than 1 percent of NYCís 13,000 yellow cabs. The company hopes to recruit 100 new drivers every week.
The app, however, may face a significant legal battle. New Yorkís taxi officials say Uberís service may not be legal since city rules forbid prearranged taxi rides. They also disallow cabbies from using electronic devices while driving and forbid any unjustified refusal of fares.
Travis Kalanick, Uberís CEO, rejected the notion that the app violated citywide ban on prearranged taxi rides, citing that Uber does not work ďon behalf of a base,Ē whatever that means. He has met with New Yorkís Taxi and Limousine Commission, but the organization has yet to determine Uberís legality.