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A man rides his bike past a snow-covered New York Taxi in Manhattan, March 8, 2013. (ASMAA WAGUIH/REUTERS)
A man rides his bike past a snow-covered New York Taxi in Manhattan, March 8, 2013. (ASMAA WAGUIH/REUTERS)

New York yellow cab drivers fight for right to use “e-hail” app Add to ...

A pilot program that would allow people in New York City to hail yellow cabs using a smartphone app was blocked by a judge on Thursday, handing a victory to private car companies that have said the program threatens their business.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Huff granted a request from the livery companies to freeze the new “e-hail” program that had been scheduled to begin as early as Friday.

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The order will be in effect until at least March 18, when the two sides are due to return to court to argue the merits of a lawsuit brought by the livery companies against the city.

The pilot program would allow people to use a phone application to request a yellow cab ride. Taxi drivers would be able to receive such requests and confirm pickup locations.

Private car companies rely on prearranged pickups. Under New York’s two-prong cab system, yellow cabs handle street hails but cannot accept phone pickups; livery cars do the opposite.

The program would be an option for New Yorkers accustomed to standing in the street and flagging down the city’s approximately 13,000 yellow cabs. E-hail apps like Uber and Hailo have become popular in other cities.

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