New York City finally welcomes Uber cab, sort of. Not really. Update: Just kidding.

posted at 8:41 pm on May 1, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

If you happen to live in a major city like San Francisco, Chicago, or DC, have a smartphone, and you’ve never tried out Uber cab for your taxi-hailing needs — it is fantastic and I freely recommend it. Instead of having to go out on a potentially cold and/or sketchy street to search for a roving cab for who knows how long, you only need to take to your phone and wait to be notified of when a nearby driver arrives at your location. The cars are clean, the employees are courteous, and you don’t need to mess with cash or hand over your credit card to pay. In a nutshell, it started as a great idea to cater to people willing to pay a little bit more for convenience in big cities using readily available technology, and it quickly became a successful business — which might be even more successful if certain local regulations didn’t allow entrenched interests the recourse to thwart competition that happens to threaten some of their market share and old-and-tired business models.

Like in, say, New York City, for example. Uber has been fighting to be allowed to do business there, but the existing taxi and limo drivers are all too aware that the efficiency and convenience of Uber cab will appeal to at least a portion of their consumers. Last week, Uber finally got the city to approve their taxi-hailing app, if only on a sort of probationary basis:

Looks like New York City isn’t going to hold a grudge against Uber for attempting to launch its taxi-hailing service without permission last summer. The San Francisco startup just became the first company to be approved under New York’s new pilot program, which will allow selected companies to offer smartphone apps that let customers hail a cab from their phones. …

The pilot program was just cleared earlier this week when a judge ruled against a group of traditional taxi companies that had accused the new smartphone startups of violating city regulations. The 12-month program starts today, so New Yorkers in need of a ride may be able to drop the rigorous arm-waving this weekend — as long as there are enough Uber cabs on the street, that is.

Now, hold on just a dang minute: A tough legal battle that’s been in the works since “last summer” for “violating city regulations” has finally been “approved under New York’s pilot program”? …Really? As Tim Worstall put it at Forbes, that right there is a pretty disgracefully apt demonstration of a lot of what’s wrong with the U.S. economy:

Uber, or at least this part of Uber, is simply a method of hailing a cab. This is not a complicated task: it’s not rocket science and it’s not deciding where to put a nuclear power station. It’s an electronic version of standing in the street and waving your arms around.

Yet, despite this simplicity, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has taken nearly a year to even allow a pilot program to start. With only selected companies allowed to do so. … There are too many gatekeepers making it difficult to apply the new technologies to those real world problems. This limits growth simply because, at heart, growth is applying new technologies to real world problems.

Or, if you want to put it in the words about capitalism, we’ve plenty of creation going on but just too many people not allowing the concomitant destruction.

The economy tries to present practical, efficient solutions and improvements; big government allows people to protest on no other basis than their inability to compete and continue attracting consumers. Unbelievable.

Update: I spoke too soon. Shaking my head, friends.

An appellate court judge is slamming the brakes on the city’s controversial e-hail pilot program that allows New Yorkers to request yellow cabs using their smartphones.

State Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman issued an emergency injunction Wednesday, blocking the one-year pilot program that launched Tuesday night with a yellow cab option on the Uber smartphone app.


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Without reading the whole thing..There’s Mob and Unions involved..

Get right outta town!!!!

BigWyo on May 1, 2013 at 8:47 PM

Really?

REALLY?

This is what paying off politicians and commissioners can do? Keep me from using my cell phone to hail a cab?

What next, are you going to regulate the size of the soda I can …. wait..

Defenestratus on May 1, 2013 at 8:50 PM

The government is like the mob, they want there cut.

newportmike on May 1, 2013 at 8:51 PM

An appellate court judge is slamming the brakes on the city’s controversial e-hail pilot program that allows New Yorkers to request yellow cabs using their smartphones.

State Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman issued an emergency injunction Wednesday, blocking the one-year pilot program that launched Tuesday night with a yellow cab option on the Uber smartphone app.

Wonder how much he got paid for that.

Midas on May 1, 2013 at 8:53 PM

She.

Probably looks like he.

Midas on May 1, 2013 at 8:53 PM

The problem here is that Obamaphones are not smartphones. If successful only poor people will be out there hailing cabs the old-fashioned way.

In the meantime, we just got a Capital Bikeshare station down the block. Talk about a company that found a niche market.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Rather puts the lie to that “New York is Open for Business” ad campaign, no?

Zumkopf on May 1, 2013 at 9:05 PM

So, just out of curiosity, what happens to those of us who don’t have a smart phone?

parke on May 1, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Rather puts the lie to that “New York is Open for Business” ad campaign, no?

Zumkopf on May 1, 2013 at 9:05 PM

That ad cracks me up whenever I see it. Trying to attract new business and people to a state with commies in charge, an anti-business mentality, and oppressive taxation. Lots of luck with that.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2013 at 9:10 PM

The New York City medallion taxi system has been an elite club designed to prevent free market competition for over half a century. It’s set up to limit the number of cabs that serve the city — hence driving up the price of the medallions to astronomical levels — and to basically only serve areas from the Battery to 96th Street on the East Side of Manhattan and up to Columbia University on the West Side (just try to find a cab that will pick up/drop off in the city anyplace outside that area except for JFK and LaGuardia).

Of course they’re going to fight tooth and nail against Uber cab, until they can figure out a way that only the medallion cabs can benefit from Uber cab. As long as they see a chance of someone else profiting, the medallion owners are going to try and tie it up in court.

jon1979 on May 1, 2013 at 9:12 PM

Whats next,

E-Hooker!!
(sarc)

canopfor on May 1, 2013 at 9:13 PM

So, just out of curiosity, what happens to those of us who don’t have a smart phone?

parke on May 1, 2013 at 9:07 PM

You will have to adapt or die! ;0

I didn’t think I’d use all the stuff on a smartphone. I was wrong. And I really don’t see them as a fad that is going to fade away.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2013 at 9:15 PM

Whats next,

E-Hooker!!
(sarc)

canopfor on May 1, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Hard to believe there isn’t already an app for that.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2013 at 9:16 PM

The problem here is that Obamaphones are not smartphones. If successful only poor people will be out there hailing cabs the old-fashioned way.

In the meantime, we just got a Capital Bikeshare station down the block. Talk about a company that found a niche market.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Yea, let’s bitch about how all those liberal startup companies can’t instantly push over the established order- and the pretend that Obama’s in the way because you don’t understand the free enterprise landscape.

To most in silicon valley, Obama is the biggest supporter of startups to ever reach the White House. His passage of the JOBS Act fulfilled a wish list from entrepreneurs and his support of more visas for highly skilled immigrant professionals is seen as critical to the continued growth of the digital economy.

bayam on May 1, 2013 at 9:17 PM

The problem here is that Obamaphones are not smartphones. If successful only poor people will be out there hailing cabs the old-fashioned way.

In the meantime, we just got a Capital Bikeshare station down the block. Talk about a company that found a niche market.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Yea, let’s complain about how all those liberal startup companies can’t instantly push over the established order- and the pretend that Obama’s in the way because you don’t understand the free enterprise landscape.

To most in silicon valley, Obama is the biggest supporter of startups to ever reach the White House. His passage of the JOBS Act fulfilled a wish list from entrepreneurs and his support of more visas for highly skilled immigrant professionals is seen as critical to the continued growth of the digital economy.

bayam on May 1, 2013 at 9:18 PM

I do business every day in NYC. Corruption and unionism (but I repeat myself) are the norm as it always is with democrat/socialist government controlled states. I personally don’t see why companies still do business there.

I wish this company luck with trying to break into that market but I doubt they will be able to function without making deals with the mob and government (darn I repeated myself again), to pay protection essentially.

Wine_N_Dine on May 1, 2013 at 9:23 PM

The economy tries to present practical, efficient solutions and improvements; big government allows people to protest on no other basis than their inability to compete and continue attracting consumers. Unbelievable.

All this technical innovation is killing traditional jobs at an almost blinding rate, with a seemingly endless stream of new job openings at high tech startups as well as established internet companies. Software is transforming the world.

On the flip side of this coin, many older workers don’t have the aptitude to become software developers and are finding their economic prospects quickly diminishing. Between tech innovation and globalization, it’s a truly brutal world for many people, and there should be more job training and other programs to support people now locked out of the job market due to no fault of their own.

bayam on May 1, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Really?

REALLY?

This is what paying off politicians and commissioners can do? Keep me from using my cell phone to hail a cab?

What next, are you going to regulate the size of the soda I can …. wait..

Defenestratus on May 1, 2013 at 8:50 PM

First, they came for the smokers….

massrighty on May 1, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Let’s have jackasses like this deciding our healthcare for us.

Bishop on May 1, 2013 at 9:28 PM

Cabbing 2.0

–bayam

tom daschle concerned on May 1, 2013 at 9:28 PM

In New York the Supreme Court is not an appellate court

tmitsss on May 1, 2013 at 9:32 PM

I am a highly enthusiastic user of Uber here in Boston, and I’ve used it in NYC, DC, Chicago and San Francisco. It is a terrific business model – the drivers love it and as a customer, I can attest it’s first rate. The friction in these cities (Boston and Cambridge included) is due to the local authority that controls hackney licenses. They hate it. They should — it’s a dependable, first-class service at only slightly higher rates than conventional cabs. . Call a regular cab company and be told it will be there in 10 minutes… call back in 30 when it hasn’t arrived to find out from the dispatcher that the driver picked up another passenger instead and they’ll send another cab along… do I feel sorry for cab drivers or the cab companies? Not one bit — they suck… and it’s their very “suckiness” that made Uber’s success possible. Tough darts, fellas…

dpduq on May 1, 2013 at 9:32 PM

All this technical innovation is killing traditional jobs at an almost blinding rate, with a seemingly endless stream of new job openings at high tech startups as well as established internet companies. Software is transforming the world.

On the flip side of this coin, many older workers don’t have the aptitude to become software developers and are finding their economic prospects quickly diminishing. Between tech innovation and globalization, it’s a truly brutal world for many people, and there should be more job training and other programs to support people now locked out of the job market due to no fault of their own.

bayam on May 1, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Increasing industrial automation will kill the existing cottage industry base, displacing people who craft-produce products, but resulting in lower-cost, higher quality products.

Mr. Ludd, your table is ready…

massrighty on May 1, 2013 at 9:35 PM

To most in silicon valley, Obama is the biggest supporter of startups to ever reach the White House. His passage of the JOBS Act fulfilled a wish list from entrepreneurs and his support of more visas for highly skilled immigrant professionals is seen as critical to the continued growth of the digital economy.

bayam on May 1, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Solyndra is an outstanding example of the killer job the rat-eared coward is doing with startups. The problem, of course, is the bastard is picking winners and losers and not letting the free market work (which you imply).

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2013 at 9:36 PM

To most in silicon valley, Obama is the biggest supporter of startups to ever reach the White House. His passage of the JOBS Act fulfilled a wish list from entrepreneurs and his support of more visas for highly skilled immigrant professionals is seen as critical to the continued growth of the digital economy.

bayam on May 1, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Proof? Or, just your usual argument by assertion?
Who are these “most?”

massrighty on May 1, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Digital Economy 2.0
–bayam

LMFAO!

tom daschle concerned on May 1, 2013 at 9:45 PM

I wish this company luck with trying to break into that market but I doubt they will be able to function without making deals with the mob and government (darn I repeated myself again), to pay protection essentially.

Wine_N_Dine on May 1, 2013 at 9:23 PM

Companies like Uber represent competition in a heavily regulated industry where a NYC medallion costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Alternative business models cheapens the value of those medallions and the status quo doesn’t like it. But you are right, where there is heavy regulation you have massive bureaucracy that is change averse. And you have corruption.

Years ago I worked for a company who had a new business model for provided transportation services to Medicaid clients with special needs. Old model- Client calls and arranges for transportation directly. New model- Client calls a number and the company arranges for transportation resulting in better efficiency and cost control (the providers in the old system were corrupt beyond belief). Well, the transportation companies didn’t like it and launched a covert war complete with an article in the paper about how the company was going to kill people. It was dirty and about as unfair as you can imagine. But you don’t make friends when you break rice bowls.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2013 at 9:47 PM

To most in silicon valley, Obama is the biggest supporter of startups to ever reach the White House.

bayam on May 1, 2013 at 9:18 PM

I don’t know about the program you mentioned but the Startup America Partnership bu President Obama got him the love of Google, Intel and I don’t know who else. You do have a point but Silicon Valley is hardly monolithic.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/02/01/startup_america_partnership/

An engineer I have as a consultant in the area, has less use for Mr. Obama than your average Sarah Palin supporter on these threads. He promised me that I would NEVER do anything with the WH or earn grants, etc. — Why? I’m apparently not corrupt or Democrat enough!

When I asked him to use his political expertise to help me out, he said he wouldn’t “soil” himself.

IlikedAUH2O on May 1, 2013 at 10:13 PM

On these cab calls, do the drivers get to size up the fares?

IlikedAUH2O on May 1, 2013 at 10:13 PM

To be fair to the taxi drivers, many of them drop as much as a cool million to purchase a taxi medallion that allows them to operate their service. NYC baited and switched on them by promising restrictions on the number of taxis in the city and then allowing Uber to set up shop.

[I personally believe that the system should be scrapped and that free markets should dictate how many taxis there are in NYC. I just think it's a little bit unfair for someone to purchase a business license and then see their competitor get it for free.]

blammm on May 1, 2013 at 10:16 PM

E-Hooker!!
(sarc)

canopfor on May 1, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Hard to believe there isn’t already an app for that.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2013 at 9:16 PM

Happy Nomad:

Lol,tru dat:)

canopfor on May 1, 2013 at 10:50 PM

To most in silicon valley, Obama is the biggest supporter of startups to ever reach the White House.

bayam on May 1, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Yeah, and to those startups along the Keystone pipeline, he’s the Anti-Christ.

itsspideyman on May 2, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Whats next,

E-Hooker!!
(sarc)

canopfor on May 1, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Hard to believe there isn’t already an app for that.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2013 at 9:16 PM

What? You can’t get Craigslist on your smartphone? Who knew?
;)

GWB on May 2, 2013 at 10:28 AM

I have used Uber many times in DC and Denver and it is life changing. You dial up the app and see a map of cars near your location. Request a black car and you get a message showing the driver’s photo, license plate number and distance away. Then the driver calls you and tells you how many minutes before he arrives. At destination, you simply get out of the car and the fare plus tip (you designate how much percent tip on your Uber web site page) is billed to your credit card. Then you get a map of the ride, with distance, time traveled and fare. A few minutes you get a chance to rate the driver up to 5 stars (like ebay’s feedback). Most of the drivers own their own limo and the fares are very reasonable with a $15 minimum. I’m sure there is some sort of discrimination against Obamaphones, but at least all the cars are black.

Jocundus on May 2, 2013 at 8:49 PM