Can't Win 'Em All: Uber Gives Up Attempt To Do UberTaxi In NYC (For Now...)

from the more-regulatory-fighting dept

We've talked about how innovative ride hailing company, Uber, was pushing regulatory boundaries across the country, often showing how restrictive local regulators could be towards innovation. In many cases, Uber has been able to generate enough public support that local taxi and limo regulators ended up backing down. But you can't win 'em all. Uber has admitted that it's pulled the plug on UberTaxi in New York City.

While Uber is most well known for its "black car" service, it's also been moving aggressively into the taxi world (which is why it's getting sued in Chicago). NYC's Taxi and Limo Commission (TLC) has fought against this move, since the law technically requires cabs to be hailed directly from the street -- and the TLC claimed that hailing from a phone violated that. Uber, however, claims that the TLC has admitted privately that the service is legal. Either way, the TLC threatened cabbies who used Uber, and that limited the number willing to take part, which probably made the service a lot less interesting for users. And, for now, the service has shut down.

The TLC, for its part, seems to suggest that this is only temporary, and it would like to bring such services back -- but it needs to conclude existing contracts:
"In recent months, as e-hail apps have emerged, TLC has undertaken serious diligence and is moving toward rule changes that will open the market to app developers and other innovators. Those changes cannot legally take place until our existing exclusive contracts expire in February. We are committed to making it as easy as possible to get a safe, legal ride in a New York City taxi, and are excited to see how emerging technology can improve that process. Our taxis have always been on the cutting edge of technological innovation, from GPS systems to credit card readers."
Hopefully that's true, but the devil is in the details... we'll see what happens early next year.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Niall (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 3:38am

    Yet another Third World stance for the US

    Seriously, only hailing from the street? Are you saying that you can't phone for a taxi? Pardon me if that's simply not mentioned as a possibility, but if you can't remotely request a taxi in one of the biggest, busiest Western cities in the world, you are seriously seriously behind. Talk about killing competition and progress!

    And apologies to all the Third World cities where this rudimentary option is already available...

     

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      Ninja (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 5:11am

      Re: Yet another Third World stance for the US

      That. I can even track the cab from my phone once I call it (if I don't have the app I can receive text messages with the location every 5 minutes). I think São Paulo should export that service to NYC ;)

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 5:40am

      Re: Yet another Third World stance for the US

      You hail taxis, and call for "black cars" in New York. Remarkable to those who don't travel, but the taxi systems in various countries are in fact very different, and have different rules. The same is true for limos, black cars, and such.

      Proof there isn't one perfect solution.

       

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        Oblate (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 6:27am

        Re: Re: Yet another Third World stance for the US

        Proof there isn't one perfect solution.

        And that there are plenty of solutions that suck.

         

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        Lurk-a-lot (profile), Oct 18th, 2012 @ 12:29am

        Re: Re: Yet another Third World stance for the US

        True, but that's the reason that you shouldn't simply block any new solutions that come along.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 1:24pm

      Re: Yet another Third World stance for the US

      Yeah, this seems especially strange to me. In our city you cannot hail a cab from the street, because the cabs simply will not stop. You have to call ahead to book a ride, or do so on an internet or smartphone app.

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 3:40pm

        Re: Re: Yet another Third World stance for the US

        That's how it is where I live as well, with the exception of certain zones: you can "hail" a cab at busy hotels & airports. Otherwise, you have to call.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 4:12am

    Land of the free, home of the brave. Or something.

     

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    abc gum, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 4:31am

    I thought Luddites were a part of history gone by, but apparently some of them have survived and are thriving in the taxi business.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 4:40am

    A pity for the users. Now it's interesting that there's a law involved. Probably useless and outdated that's being used to hinder good new services...

    Now threatening cabbies doesn't seem to be abusing its dominant market position in NYC, right?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 4:56am

    What it means is that Uber (and others) can come play IF they follow the rules, and that will likely include the fare basis. Uber's model of the Uber Tip isn't likely to fly. They will likely have to make money in some other manner, which may make their model less usable.

     

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      abc gum, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 5:26am

      Re:

      "IF they follow the rules"

      A competitive marketplace is just too much trouble and we need more laws to stifle such unamerican activities.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 8:24am

      Re:

      I don't understand what 'rules' Uber is breaking with their 10% cut? They clearly spell out their rates, they clearly note that the tip is included.

      So why exactly would they need to change their model?

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 3:42pm

      Re:

      What it means is that Uber (and others) can come play IF they follow the rules


      ...that are designed to prevent new competition from forming.

       

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    Planespotter (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 5:02am

    Cool... just wait till after Feb and watch the TLC bring out it's own version... of course Laws will be changed to ensure than any new actor in the scene will have to pay a "license" and that TLC will collect said license and ensure that it is paid to the welfare fund of cabbies to ensure that their great grandchildren can benefit from a 5 minutes fare driven in March 2013 that cost $10.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 5:34am

    You haven't researched this sufficiently. There is no problem getting a car in NYC by phone, if you are foolish enough to want to wait for it to fight its way through traffic to your door, and then sit in traffic while getting to your destination.

    NYC distinguishes between taxis that get hailed on the street and car services and limousine services that get called by phone. The problem is that Uber wants to do both at once.

    The taxi industry has no issue with allowing taxis to get hired by phone. It's the car services and limousine services that are opposed to this threat to their livelyhood.

     

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    Laroquod (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 7:54am

    'Please stand by for 4 months... Your right to offer a service have been suspended pending the conclusion of our contractual obligation to oppress you... You will be notified when our contractual obligation to oppress you has concluded... Please stand by for...' etc.

     

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