MANHATTAN — A state Supreme Court judge bounced a lawsuit on Tuesday challenging the city's authority to experiment with electronic cab hailing using smartphone apps.
The decision clears the way for a pilot program for cabbies and passengers to connect using "e-hailing" apps on their smartphones.
“This decision is a victory for all the riders who want to decide for themselves what technologies and services they want to use,” said TLC Commissioner David Yassky. “The market will ultimately decide which apps rise or fall and we have an obligation to give the riding public that choice. Thanks to today’s ruling, they have that choice.”
The lawsuit was filed by several livery car companies who challenged the program citing a city ordinance that requires a license for all prearranged rides.
An elderly man, Arthur Harris, joined the suit claiming that the pilot discriminated against older people who are less tech savvy.
“A possible beneficial effect upon the elderly is the potential ability to more efficiently locate an available taxi, reducing time spent standing or walking,” Judge Carol Huff wrote in her decision. "One of the purposes of a pilot program such as this is to determine in real-world conditions whether discriminatory passenger selection will increase, decrease or remain the same under an e-hail program."
The program will only last a year and the city must still hold hearings and follow rule-changing procedures to allow use of the apps permanently.
The city's legal department hailed the decision.
"The TLC must be able to pilot new technology like e-hail apps to stay on the cutting edge of industry and to best serve the public," said city Law Department head Michael Cardozo.