March 7, 2013
The Honorable Carol Huff
Supreme Court of the State of New York
111 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013
Re: Black Car Assistance Corporation et al. v The City of New York et al.
Case No. 1003271/2013
Dear Justice Huff:
We are members of New York City’s technology, business, public interest, and academic communities, and as such we have a vested interest in advancing New York City’s role as not just a great place to live and work, but also as a leader of social and economic opportunity among U.S. cities.
The undersigned respectfully submit this letter in support of The City of New York and The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) in the above referenced case.
E-Hailing is already part of the transportation experience in London, Dublin, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco, among others. Passengers and drivers in those towns instantly adapted to its convenience and its efficiency. They will never look back. Without it, New Yorkers will feel like second class global citizens.
E-Hail apps like Hailo, Flywheel, and Uber have proven they will improve the livelihood of taxi drivers and the quality of life for their users, and will do the same for New Yorkers while positively impacting the economic and social well being of this city.
We also fear that if New York fails to embrace this moment and not take a full step forward towards the opportunities presented by these and other such services, our city’s growing reputation as a technology hub will be threatened. The future of New York will depend greatly on its ability to attract and retain a highly skilled digital workforce and investment so that it can successfully compete in the 21st century global economy.
The TLC has proposed sensible rules which will give New Yorkers access to state of the art E-Hailing as practiced and proven through millions of trips all over the world. They have created a level playing field for multiple competitive applications to come to market allowing passengers and drivers to decide which apps will win their hearts, minds, and wallets.
We encourage you to reject the attempts by the current entrenched and incumbent interests, such as payment providers, to solidify their monopolistic positions and clear the way for open platforms of innovation and service.
When E-Hailing was first announced as coming to New York, the TLC and Mayor’s office stated that the only real obstacle beyond their control was the expiry of this payment exclusivity, for which they had no immediate remedy. Today, there is an opportunity to bypass this exclusivity via a waiver; this critical, and potentially hurdle-busting piece, needs implementation. Those with the power to decide must see past the repeated efforts by incumbent payment processors to block innovation, limit consumer choice, and threaten our reputation as technological innovators.
E-Hailing apps are already commonplace in Black Car and Livery services throughout NYC – including seamless one-touch payment – and believe this technology should be made available to all New Yorkers and its visitors providing a more timely, safer and convenient way home and around town.
Entrepreneurs, software developers, the people of NYC, and the TLC all know how great this technology can be. Only a few narrow minded and self serving plaintiffs are clinging to old ideas and residual arrangements negatively impact our collective future. The time is now for New York to join other cities who have already embarked on their cab rides into the future.
E-hailing sits squarely in the public interest: a single tap brings safety, convenience, accessibility, accountability, economic development, and global competitiveness. And everyone is better off as a result.
We urge you to rule in favor of the TLC and by extension in favor of the future of New York.
Sincerely,Tom Wright, Regional Plan Association Fred Willson, Union Square Ventures
Michael Bloomberg, Mayor
Christine Quinn, Speaker, City Council
David Yassky, Chairman, Taxi & Limousine Commission