New York says you can't 'hail' taxi with app

In New York, you still must hail a taxi the old-fashioned way, by raising your arm, no smartphone apps allowed.

A startup called Uber seeking to launch a service allowing New Yorkers to summon a cab with their smartphones got shot down this week by the city's & Limousine Commission.

The taxi regulator said in a statement Thursday "that it has NOT authorized any electronic hailing or payment applications (apps) for use in New York City taxicabs."

The commission said there were other problems with the plan by Uber, which has its own pricing scheme which differs from the city's meter rates.

"A driver cannot charge a passenger more than the fare on the meter for a taxi ride," the statement said.

"If a driver uses a payment that charges the passenger more than the fare on the meter for a taxi ride, the driver is responsible for a passenger overcharge."

Additionally, the panel said a driver "must not use any electronic communication device, including a cell phone or running a hail or payment app while operating a taxicab."

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment but chief executive Travis Kalanick expressed dismay on Twitter, saying: "NYC city is telling TAXI not to work with @uber!! more NY'ers stranded in outer-boroughs, more drivers unable to make a living wage."

Uber's Edward Casabian said on the company blog that the group would be offering free service in New York until September 12, for consumers who download the app and request a yellow taxi.

"This is a really BIG deal for NYC transportation," he wrote. "We're excited to offer New Yorkers a step towards more reliable, more convenient, and more accessible NYC taxi service."

Uber has launched service in 15 US cities, along with Toronto and Vancouver in Canada, and in London and Paris.

(c) 2012 AFP

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