New York Taxi Agency Passes Rules on Price Estimates for Ride-Hailing Apps


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The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission voted unanimously on Monday to approve regulations for ride-hailing companies operating in the city.

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Michael Appleton for The New York Times

Livery-cab passengers hailing rides through smartphone apps in New York City will get estimated fares for so-called surge pricing and itemized receipts, under rules passed Monday by the Taxi and Limousine Commission as it tries to keep pace with rapid changes in technology.

The rules package also requires that drivers’ ride-hailing apps be locked while the vehicles are in motion, to prevent drivers from becoming distracted when summoned for new fares. But one-touch or voice-activated acceptance of fares will be allowed.

The rules were meant to address the growing presence of ride-hailing apps, especially Uber, which has clashed with regulators in cities and countries around the world and fiercely protested the commission’s new rules when they were proposed this year.

The company was particularly worried about a rule that could have been read to mean that it had to seek the commission’s approval for any software changes, which Uber said could stifle innovation. Though the commission said that was not its intent, it modified the proposal to say it required notification of software updates, not approval.

The chairwoman, Meera Joshi, said the commission’s goal was to make the rules “tech agnostic,” so they could be relevant throughout technological advances.

“Our point is not to go after one particular technology,” Ms. Joshi said. “It’s to provide baseline consumer protection and driver safety requirements that are in place regardless of what the latest and greatest technology being used in the cars is.”

The new rules, which will go into effect in 30 days, require companies to report any data breaches to the commission. The companies must also inform customers of their right to complain to the commission, which can suspend or revoke a livery driver’s license.

The rule change most apparent to passengers, however, was the one regarding surge pricing, which is the companies’ practice of charging more for rides during times of high demand. Passengers will have to be given fair estimates of how much they are about to spend on rides.

Both Uber and Lyft, another ride-hailing app, applauded the commission for modifying its proposal. “A big part of the rules were just codifying what we were already doing,” said Josh Mohrer, Uber N.Y.C.’s general manager.

But Michael Woloz, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents taxi medallion owners, who have felt pressure from the growth of Uber, said requiring approval of software updates was “a perfectly reasonable thing for a regulatory agency to ask for.”

“Uber threw a giant temper tantrum like the spoiled child they are,” Mr. Woloz said. “At the end of the day, they’re still going to be regulated the way New York City wants to regulate them, not the way they want to regulate themselves.”



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