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Here's Why You'll Never Yell 'Taxi!' Again in NYC

Thursday, 9 Aug 2012 | 11:12 AM ET
Michael Goldman | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

Hailing a taxi in New York City just got a little bit easier.

A new smartphone application called ZabKab launched earlier this week that allows users to hail a yellow taxicab using their smartphone.

Basically, the app allows users to broadcast their GPS location to taxi drivers who are also using the application.

Users tap the 'hail' button on the app, which sends out their location, and then the cabs in the area will begin to appear on the map in the application for users to view.

ZabKab users can also opt to include additional information to send to the cab driver, like how many people are in their party and if they need a cab that is wheelchair accessible.

While Zabkab isn't the first car service app, it is significant because it allows users to hail NYC yellow taxicabs. (Other car service apps like Uber, use private cars to provide service to customers.)

Developing an application for NYC yellow taxi cabs is a little bit tricky because of Taxi & Limousine Commission regulations (TLC).

The TLC requires Medallion taxi drivers to only pick up hailing passengers. The drivers cannot be a part of a dispatch system or pre-arrange taxi services. So naturally, this presents a little bit of a challenge when trying to create an app that is supposed to make it easier to find a cab.

ZabKab, however, does not offer a pre-arranged service, but rather allows taxis to see where customers are.

The TLC also prohibits the Medallion taxi drivers from using a mobile device while they are driving a passenger, but the new application addresses this by only allowing the driver to view the app display when the car is at a standstill. When the cab starts to move the app display fades away.

ZabKab was developed by Flatiron Apps, a New York City based company, and while they launched their app in NYC, the company plans to roll out the application to other U.S. cities and international cities, according to their website.

ZabKab is free for those trying to find a taxi and is available on the iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices. (A version for the BlackBerry will be available soon.)

Cab drivers, however, must pay $14.95 a month for the service, after an initial free 45-day trial period.



email: tech@cnbc.com

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