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Commissioner’s Corner

April 2013

It’s raining pretty heavily as I write this column, and it occurs to me that, rather famously, this is one of those times when it is notoriously difficult to hail a taxicab.  Regardless of the mild temperature, and forgetting how good one’s umbrella may be, it’s a truth that many would prefer to ride than walk on stormy days like today, and it is a simple fact that the competition is stiff for the existing number of cabs.  As I had mentioned in my last column, I believe New York City is and will always remain a hail town when it comes to its cabs, but I also reflected my belief that e-hail apps can help people on the fringes of service.  I mentioned uptown and downtown, and off hours, but what I neglected to include was the fact that, like a great equalizer, rain makes all of New York City fringe territory.  I can’t help but believe that e-hail apps would help both passengers and drivers alike weather such moments.

Another benefit of the e-hail app is that is color-, geography- and disability-blind.  While app opponents somehow claim that they are discriminatory, the facts suggest quite the opposite.  Simply put, the driver accepts the e-hail without knowing the who, what, and where of the ride….only the when.  (There is a very interesting article on this at http://www.racialicious.com/2012/11/28/cab-drivers-uber-and-the-costs-of-racism/?wpmp_tp=0.)

Anyway, the TLC was in court several days ago to make its compelling case about e-hail apps, bolstered by the enthusiastic support of the Metropolitan Taxi Board of Trade (MTBOT).  The originally assigned judge, Arthur Engoron, had been removed from the case due to his involvement with prior taxi issues, and several of the subsequently-assigned judges recused themselves from the case for unspecified reasons, and so it was not in the least bit surprising that newly-assigned Judge Carol Huff wanted to take some additional time for prudent due diligence.  Judge Huff granted a temporary restraining order, essentially freezing the pilot program until our next court date, March 19.  It is our hope, as well as the hope of the medallion taxi industry’s leadership, that by the time you read this, the case will have been decided in our favor and that both passengers and drivers will be enjoying the early fruits of these technological innovations as the black car industry has for some time.

On other futuristic matters, I am pleased to note that the Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow is being road tested on our streets as we speak!  Take a look at this great video that Nissan made -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOqczh87_Uk!  Let’s see if any of you eagle-eyes out there can catch a glimpse of it while it’s jaunting around……people have already tried to hail it a few times!

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