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State Court Stalls City Plans For Taxi Hail App

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A pilot program to allow people to hail yellow cabs with their smartphones stalled in state court Thursday. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission was planning to approve new applications this week that would have allowed commuters to flag down cabs with a smartphone, a process called e-hailing.

But on Thursday, a state court judge slammed the brakes on the pilot program.

"We certainly think that the suit brought by the special interest black car companies is baseless, but the court has to do its due diligence," said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky. "They want 10 days to look at it. Understood."

"We are extremely gratified that the judge has entered a temporary restraining order stopping this faux pilot program from going forward," said Randy Mastro, an attorney for several livery cab companies who sued the city over the program.

The livery cab companies argued that the TLC went forward without the proper OK from the City Council, and that the e-hail app would promote discrimination, allowing yellow cabs to pick and choose their passengers.

"They are supposed to pick up the next fare when you are doing street hails," Mastro said. "These are not street hails. These are prearranged pickups."

"Every industry has been changed by smartphones and tablets," Yassky said.

The pilot would allow taxis to accept e-hails within a half mile below 59th Street and a mile and half anywhere else, except the city's airports.

Many of the drivers NY1 spoke to said it was a good idea.

"That's going to help to improve the business," said one driver. "Like you standing down the block in the rain, nobody's going there, everybody's going this way. That's what I see a lot of the time. I've been driving a long time."

"TLC knows that it's better, it's very good for the customer and for the cabbies," said another driver.

The e-hail app isn't dead. It's just delayed. Both parties will be back at court later this month to argue the actual merits of the case.

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