The New York Times recently reported that officials in Chicago and New York have introduced proposals to design mobile smartphone applications that would allow users to hail cabs from their smartphones and other devices. These efforts are in response to the increasing popularity of ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, which allow users to request a ride from an app on their smartphones. In Chicago, efforts to create a mobile application come along with a package of reforms to modernize its taxi industry, which modifies driver lease rates and other regulations.
Uber and companies like it have created controversy since they began approximately five years ago. Taxi and limousine services believe companies like Uber are operating outside of the regulatory scheme and have an unfair advantage; many other officials question the services’ safety, because the drivers who provide the rides are not company employees (although they are background checked) and use their personal vehicles to give rides. As many states and cities look to regulate Uber and other services, they may also look to modernize existing taxi services, because the popularity of Uber makes it clear that many people favor a convenient, high-tech solution for their transportation needs.