In a move which should surprise no one who's been following along, New York City livery car groups successfully won a bid yesterday afternoon for a temporary restraining order against New York City's smartphone-based hail pilot program ("e-hails," if you will). This effectively shuts down any (limited) plans UberTAXI and others had for getting back in business in Gotham -- both Uber and Hailo are being stopped from operating in NYC as a result. Under the pilot program -- approved earlier this year but mired in legal drama ever since -- services like Uber and Hailo could be used in NYC's approximately 13K yellow cabs. Livery cab businesses in NYC have sought to stop the program's implementation via legal means. Its latest effort, the "application for interim relief," was admitted via lawyer Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn, and cites the following as its reason for the temporary restraining order:
"Absent emergency relief, petitioners and the public will suffer irreparable injury to their livelihoods, businesses and industry, fundamental rights and environmental interests, all of which will be impossible to remedy after this case is resolved in petitioner's favor."
The City of New York's senior counsel Michelle Goldberg-Cahn didn't acknowledge those claims in public statements, following the order's approval by New York State Supreme Court Justice Carole Huff. "It's unfortunate that taxi riders will not be able to continue to test this innovative tool for hailing taxis," she said in a boilerplate issued to media requests. NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission head David Yassky had a more direct response -- he said, "It is appalling that narrow commercial interests continue to try to block passengers from using the latest technology. You can't stop progress, and these obstructionists shouldn't be trying. We're confident this program will move forward." The next expected hearing day is May 20th, which is the earliest possible date that e-hail taxis are allowed operate once more. Now if you'll excuse us, we'll be refilling our MetroCards.