Travel Tip: Hail a Taxi With an App

Want to flag down a cabbie? Put your arm down; there’s an app for that.

We’ve all been there—standing on a crowded street corner, arm out for the next taxi, only to have the person beside us jump in the next one that stops. Or worse, waiting on that same street in the rain or snow or scorching summer heat when all the cabs seem full or are nowhere to be seen.
Last year, New York’s Bloomberg administration began working with the company behind the smart phone app Uber to improve the taxi-hailing process. The plan was to roll out a pilot project that would allow people to hail cabs with their phones.
Unfortunately for eager users, the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission’s pilot project for the app-based service was temporarily blocked by a judge’s injunction order yesterday, May 1. A few people did try it out before the 10-day injunction was in place, and while initial test results were generally unimpressive, some cabbies thought it was the wave of the future. (A group of livery-car operators unsuccessfully attempted to block the app service in the past, claiming it was illegal and unfair, but that lawsuit was recently dismissed. The new injunction seeks to grant the litigants more time to respond to the recent dismissal.)
And while New York’s app approach is stuck in traffic, travelers in other cities already have the luxury of smart-phone cab hailing. Yellow Cab has introduced its own app, called Hail A Cab in several Texas cities including Houston and San Antonio. The Flywheel app is active in San Francisco and is said to be expanding into San Jose. A similar app, Hailo, currently functions in Boston, Chicago and London—with extensions to several more cities in the works—and includes a payment feature that pays the driver when you exit. Hailo is also on New York’s pilot-project road map (and presumably will be active after the litigious roadblocks are cleared).