I was encouraged to see that a bill – introduced by City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) – is seeking to require the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to establish a “universal e-hail app” that would allow riders to order any for-hire vehicle from a single app. So far, the conversation has been about “leveling the playing field” between Yellow and Green Taxis, and High-Volume FHV (HVFHV) companies like Uber and Lyft, but I hope the TLC doesn’t leave out traditional Black Car, Luxury and Livery bases, which are also suffering from a precipitous drop in rides that aligns pretty closely with what Taxis are experiencing.
According to an article that ran in November in the New York Daily News, HVFHV companies were “getting three times the rides as yellow and green taxis before the pandemic – and more than eight times the rides as of September.”
Kallos’ proposed legislation would establish a city-run API – an “open software language” that allows the integration of apps from other companies. The tech would also allow yellow and green taxis to be hailed through Uber’s app, according to the Daily News story. Kallos said technology has matured enough in the last six years to make a universal e-hail app feasible.
Currently, only a fraction of Taxi trips are completed via apps – and while a larger percentage of traditional Black Car, Luxury and Livery trips are booked via app, the bases have been devastated and deserve a chance to survive the seismic shift the transportation industry in NYC has been enduring in recent years.
There is no denying the fact that a majority of people prefer to book their transportation via an app, rather than picking up a phone or even booking through a website. The Taxi industry is having its own problems with old-fashioned wave-of-the-hand hails, despite having long been a staple of life in NYC. The fact is, time marches on, and there’s just no reason HVFHV companies should have been allowed to enter the NYC market, avoid playing by the rules and using their massive war chests of investor money to decimate companies that have been around for decades.
It’s time to truly level the playing field – and a universal app could go a long way toward achieving that. Stay well, stay safe…