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New Yorkers can pay for taxis via e-hailing apps within 60 days

Taxis via e-hailing apps within 60 days

Ashwini Chahabra, deputy commissioner of policy and planning at the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission; Jay Bregman of Hailo; and Sunil Paul of Sidecar debate taxi technology Wednesday during the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York.

NEW YORK–New Yorkers will be able to hail and pay for taxis via smartphone apps within 60 days, a New York Taxi & Limousine Commission executive said Wednesday.Taxi-hailing apps help potential passengers locate a ride in real time. They simply put their location into an app, which is then sent to designated cars nearby. The first to arrive on the scene gets to pick up the customer. In many locations, users can also pay for their ride using the app, but New Yorkers currently have to pay for their ride in the traditional manner, either with cash or credit card in the car.

Ashwini Chahabra, deputy commissioner of policy and programs at the TLC, said Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York that payment methods should change within the next couple months, with users soon able to book and pay for a ride all using their phone.

Taxi-hailing apps, such as Uber, received approval to operate in New York only a few days ago. Uber on Tuesday became the first such app to return to the streets of the city. Chahabra said Uber rival Hailo also will have approval “within hours or a day.”

Companies like Uber and Hailo have been working to bring taxi apps to New York over the past year but faced many setbacks early on. Uber launched support for taxi service in New York last September, but after just one month the company pulled out due to obstacles and roadblocks by groups opposed to the service. Last week, a New York judge gave Uber and other taxi-hailing apps approval to operate in the city.

While New Yorkers can now hail a cab with their smartphones, ridesharing apps are still being debated. Sunil Paul, CEO of ridesharing app Sidecar, argued Wednesday during the TechCrunch conference that such technology should be allowed in New York. He said that it’s not currently available because “the TLC protects the taxi industry.”

But Chahabra said the TLC, while not opposed to ridesharing, is against people using ridesharing to provide taxi service without proper background checks, permits, and other regulations.

“There probably is a place where ridesharing can operate in New York,” but it has to be in a specific way, Chahabra said.

Updated at 7:50 a.m. PT with additional information and background.