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Yellow Cab Owners Fight Back Over Lawsuit Against ‘Virtual Hail’ Apps

NYC Taxi  (file/credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

NYC Taxi (file/credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A group of New York City yellow cab fleet owners has jumped into the fray over “e-hails.”

Two groups representing livery cab drivers filed suit earlier this month arguing that the virtual hail apps violate a law that prevents yellow cab drivers from setting up prearranged rides with passengers.

The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade on Tuesday filed as an intervenor on the city’s side in the lawsuit, the New York Times reported.

There are several smartphone apps that allow users to “e-hail” a yellow cab that may be driving nearby. The two plaintiffs, the Livery Roundtable and the Black Car Assistance Corporation, argue that e-hailing amounts to prearranging a fare.

But the group of yellow cab owners disagrees, arguing that an e-hail counts as a street hail.

Late last year, the Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to authorize a one year pilot program of e-hailing apps.

Black cars and livery cabs have used hailing apps in recent years as well, the Times reported.

On Tuesday, the plaintiffs issued the following joint statement over the suit: “We are in court because the Taxi and Limousine Commission acted illegally, ignored existing rules, laws and regulations.”

There are already dozens of apps on the market, including Hail-O. Like most apps, Hail-O works using a simple tap-and-hail method. Riders tap to find a nearby taxi. Drivers are equipped with the technology too, and when they see a request, they accept, turn off the light and head toward the customer.

Have you used an e-hailing app? Do you think they should be allowed? Sound off in the comments section below…

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)