A state Supreme Court judge has ordered a temporary halt to New York City's plans to start a program that would let passengers hail cabs via their smartphones.
Judge Carol Huff issued the temporary restraining order on Thursday. It's in effect pending a hearing over a lawsuit.
New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission in December had approved a pilot program allowing riders to "e-hail" yellow cabs. Livery cab owners had filed suit against the program in February, saying it would violate a law that bans yellow-cab drivers from prearranging rides with passengers.
Livery cabs aren't allowed to pick up street hails, and depend on pre-arranged rides.
Under the pilot program, the system would be tried out for one year. After the free apps start linking customers with drivers, the commission would produce quarterly reports on the program's success, leading to a decision on whether to extend it.
At least a dozen companies are ready to provide the service, including ones now operating in other U.S. cities and overseas.
It works by allowing a potential fare to use the app to request a ride. That request goes out to all participating cabbies within a certain distance, and the cabbie who uses his or her own cellphone to respond first would get the fare.
City law prohibits drivers from talking on handheld cellphones, but they would be able to use them to respond to an e-hail.