New York City agreed to a test run of a system that would replace traditional taximeters with GPS-based fare calculators. If the system is viable, NYC yellow cabs might say goodbye to back seat taxi TVs, a major source for complaints from both passengers and drivers.
The latest changes are designed to make traditional yellow taxis more reliable amid growing competition from ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. City council hopes that the new system may help high-tech companies integrate better into the taxi business.
Meera Joshi, the head of Taxi and Limousine Commission, which gave the system the green light Thursday, explained that the city needed a more ‘nimble’ system.
But the industry was divided. While some praised the new system for helping yellow cabs be in touch with modern technology and gain a competitive edge over Uber and other rivals, critics are not sure that the GPS-based calculators are reliable or accurate.
Some fear that the new technology may overcharge customers without drivers knowing it. But a spokesperson of Taxi and Limousine Commission reassured drivers that the system would be tested several times and it should also work in areas that do not have GPS coverage.
Other critics are concerned that the new system may be an easy target to hackers. Older taximeters assess time and distances with help from wheel and transmission sensors, and they cannot be hacked by people that do not have direct access to the vehicles.
Several people complained that the new GPS-based system may blur the line between traditional taxicabs and their smartphone-app-based competitors. A spokesperson from the Taxi Medallion Owner Driver Association said that the new meters may help rivals gain even more clients.
“We’ve never had issues with it. It’s working fine,”
said a spokesperson for the Taxi Medallion Owner Driver Association about the old meters.
NYC taxi drivers now need to have in their cabs a Taxi TV, a screen for drivers, an electronic meter, a credit-card reader, and a GPS system. If the new rules are enforced, all these items will be replaced by a single large tablet.
When they heard that NYC yellow cabs might say goodbye to back seat taxi TVs, drivers were pleased. Taxi TVs are a source of annoyance for both drivers and passengers because of lack of control, noise and the heat they emit behind drivers’ backs in hot summer days.
Many reports have shown that Taxi TVs resulted in countless complaints from both drivers and customers. But Taxi TV makers claim that surveys show that most passengers are actively watching the content.
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