As it prepares to retire the tiresome Taxi TVs, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is also giving a test run of tech that will move mile tracking into the digital age.
GPS-based meters could become the norm if this pilot program has a successful run.
The pilot program will include 1,000 of New York City's current fleet of 13,500 taxi cabs. The pilot, which will run up to a year, was initially set to include 4,000 cabs.
Fending Off Rivals
The commission's pilot program comes at a critical time for the industry, as the likes of Uber and Lyft dig into the taxi cab system with their crowd-sourced ridesharing models.
The yellow taxis' new streamlined technology may eliminate some hassles for patrons. Taxi passengers no longer have to provide directions in case the cab driver is unfamiliar with the destination, or hand over cold hard cash when paying. These are conveniences currently offered by rivals that rely on mobile apps to book a ride.
The GPS-based meters could ultimately unify several technologies that include credit card readers, the taximeter, driver information monitor, Taxi TV and vehicle location system.
How The New Taxi Cab Technology Works
The GPS-based meters will use those geostationary satellites out in orbit to calculate how far a cab has carried patrons. The new meters will replace the analog machines that counted wheel revolutions to determine how far a cab has traveled.
The red-eyed, dash-mounted meters could be one of several pieces of taxi cab tech that is replaced and streamlined into a system that can feed all of its information into a tablet or smartphone.
For advertisers concerned about the death of the Taxi TV and citizens worried about missing their slice of in-cab news, the GPS-based meters could also display the same content.
Before news of the GPS-based systems broke, the TLC announced, much to the pleasure of the public, the annoying Taxi TVs could be on their way out if a pilot program went well. It was later revealed that the pilot program would cover other taxi cab systems.
In 2013, the TLC passed new rules that allow the implementation of technology from any vendor that could meet the organization's requirements.
Time to Update
It seems almost every New Yorker agrees that it's time to update at least one element of taxi cab technology systems, the Taxi TV. Even Taxi Commissioner Meera Joshi expressed discontent with the Taxi TV.
"It is definitely something that over time could probably, and does, get irritating for our frequent taxi riders, and most certainly for our drivers," said Joshi. "I think it feels somewhat dated today when you're in the taxi."