Using smartphones to hail cabs is approved in New York City

NEW YORK Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:08pm EST

NEW YORK Dec 13 (Reuters) - Waving a hand to hail a cab in New York City could soon become passe.

New Yorkers will be able to arrange taxi rides using smartphones after a city agency approved the use of "e-hailing" on Thursday.

The Taxi & Limousine Commission voted to allow passengers to hail and pay for yellow cab rides with smartphones as part of a one-year trial program beginning in about mid-February.

The rule change could mean that petty annoyances such as getting soaked while hailing a cab in the rain and having cabs grabbed by more aggressive passengers could be things of the past.

Currently, yellow cabs can pick up only riders who flag them down on the street. New York does not allow its fleet of some 13,000 yellow cabs to arrange pickups with passengers, although livery cabs and car and limousine services can do so.

Many details of how e-hailing will work in New York will be left up to developers of applications for smartphones.

Under the change, riders will be able to connect with taxis within a half-mile radius in Manhattan south of Central Park and within a 1.5-mile radius elsewhere in the city.

Taxi drivers will not be required to participate in the test program, the TLC said in a statement.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Cooney)

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