By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Yellow taxicabs are allowed to accept e-hails, a Manhattan appellate court ruled this week. New York began experimenting with taxi-summoning apps when black livery car companies initiated a lawsuit challenging the experiment as unfair intrusion on their drivers’ right to earn a living and a violation of a myriad of New York laws and regulations.
A lower court granted approval of the program only to be halted by Manhattan Appellate Division Justice Helen Freedman in May. Freedman ruled, at that time, that the e-hailing program be halted until a full panel of judges was able to hear the case.
In allowing the e-hail program to proceed, a panel of Appellate Division, First Department, judges ruled that given the “limited purpose” of and “limited time” within which the e-hail program will operate, the program is allowed by New York law.
New York’s Administrative Code allows for the Taxi and Limousine Commission to “issue temporary authorizations for the communications systems needed to accept passenger hails electronically, as those authorizations function as temporary, limited licenses appropriate for a pilot program,” the court ruled.
The court acknowledged that the e-hail program allows “drivers to ignore electronic hail requests or to cancel previously accepted requests in favor of street hails.” However, ruled, without much explanation, that such denial of e-hail requests does not violate New York’s rule that prohibits cab drivers from refusing "without justifiable grounds to take any passenger or prospective passenger to any destination within the city."
“We went to court to fight not only for our industry but for our system of checks and balances,” representatives for two of the plaintiff groups, the Livery Round Table and the Black Car Assistance Corp., said in a statement.
"We are pleased that the decision was upheld,” said New York City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo. “The ruling further confirms our position that the pilot was completely proper. The TLC 's use of new technology like e-hail apps will keep them on the cutting edge of industry and allow them to best serve the public."