Rise of the App

History & Regulations

The TLC is dedicated to improving access to safe and plentiful taxi and for-hire vehicle service, and embraces new technologies that prove effective in achieving its goals. In recent years, as the use of smartphone applications (apps) for customer service and entertainment have flourished, the TLC has also seen an influx in the number of companies wanting to conduct their businesses using apps. Want to join in the app revolution? Let us guide you.


This has presented both opportunities and challenges, and the TLC promulgated regulations that strike a balance between permitting TLC licensees and technology companies to operate apps in regulated industries, while ensuring that important safety, transparency, accountability, and availability goals are met.

Total E-Hail Requests with Outcome by Month

E-Hail rides information breakdown by month

App Use in Medallion Taxis and Street Hail Liveries (E-Hail)

In January of 2015, the Commission passed rules allowing passengers to use TLC-licensed apps to electronically hail (E-Hail) medallion taxis and Street Hail Liveries (SHLs) and to pay for their rides following a two year-long pilot program. Data evaluated by TLC during the pilot suggested that E-Hail apps increase the efficiency by which passengers and drivers are connected in certain lower-trafficked areas and do so without negatively impacting the FHV industry or the general taxi hailing public. Adoption by passengers and drivers grew over the pilot, with fulfillment rates going up as customers became more experienced users.

In 2014, 41% of e-hail requests went unfulfilled, a percentage which shrunk to 18% in 2015. E-hail requests can be fulfilled by both medallions and SHLs, but SHLs tend to fulfill more requests. Of the fulfilled requests in 2014, 64% were fulfilled by SHLs and 31% were fulfilled by medallions. In 2016, 74% of requests were fulfilled by SHLs, with 20% fulfilled by medallions.


During the pilot, a much greater proportion of E-Hails occurred outside of Manhattan’s Central Business District as compared to all taxi trips, a trend that has become more pronounced as more SHLs (who are unable to pick up passengers in the Manhattan core) have begun using E-Hail apps.


App Use in For-Hire Vehicles (E-Dispatch)


Around the same time that the TLC was developing its E-Hail pilot program, technology companies and TLC-licensed businesses were also exploring how apps could be used to arrange a ride with a black car or livery service. When apps first arrived in the city in 2011, TLC outlined a framework that allowed app companies to either become a TLC-licensed base to dispatch vehicles or work with an existing TLC-licensed base to dispatch that base’s affiliated vehicles.


This framework was later codified in June of 2015 with the passage of Dispatch Service Provider rules. The TLC was a leader in codifying requirements for app based dispatch to ensure safety, accountability, and consumer protection. For example, all apps must operate through one touch or voice activation, surge pricing must be transparent and provided at the start of a trip and every app must maintain a privacy and security policy.

Fast Facts for E-Hail Apps

As more and more companies started offering their own passenger-facing apps to book trips, TLC also saw a dramatic increase in the number of driver and vehicle licensees. From January 2014 to December 2015, the number of vehicles affiliated to TLC licensees that offer appbased service increased dramatically from around 5,000 to almost 30,000. From Janurary to December 2015, trips performed by the largest app companies collectively grew from around 69,000 trips per day to 168,000 trips per day.

Accessible Service

Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicles and Accessible Dispatch

To ensure New Yorkers using wheelchairs receive reliable access to taxis, the New York State Legislature and New York City Council created the Wheelchair Accessible Medallion in 2002, which is required to be used in conjunction with a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV). There are currently 581 medallions that must be used with a WAV. In addition to these medallions, in 2016, additional medallions will be required to put WAVs into service, with a goal that half of all medallion taxis will be accessible to passengers in wheelchairs by 2020.


In 2014, medallion WAVs completed 4.2 million trips (to all passengers). In 2015, this number increased to 4.4 million, or an increase of 5%. SHL WAVs also saw a substantial increase in the number of accessible trips, from 1.6 million in 2014 to 2.7 million in 2015, an increase of 67%. In total, over 7 million trips were performed by both medallion and SHL WAVs in 2015. This represents an increase of 22% from 2014.


The Accessible Dispatch Program (ADP), managed by the TLC, provides wheelchair accessible dispatching services for medallion cabs. Medallion WAVs respond to trips originating in Manhattan with destinations in any of the five boroughs, Westchester and Nassau counties, or the three regional airports. Passengers using this service pay the normal metered taxi fare and incur no extra cost. In 2015, 47,000 trips were booked through the ADP.


ADP will be expanding soon to serve passengers in all five boroughs.

Fast Facts of accessible dispatch

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