NYC Taxi Commission Approves Pilot Program That Would Use GPS, Tablets To Calculate Fares

The taxi you hop in on your next trip around New York City may function a lot more like Uber and other ride-hailing services: the commission tasked with regulating the city’s taxis approved a pilot program that would replace traditional fare meters with those powered by GPS location. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission voted Thursday to approve a trial program that would reduce the amount of equipment housed in a taxicab to just a GPS-enabled tablet.

“Ultimately it is to create a more nimble system,” said Meera Joshi, chairwoman of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, said of the trial program.

Under the test, about 1,000 taxis operating in the city would ditch their current fare display meters, credit card readers, driver monitors, location system and TVs for GPS-enabled meters on tablets with card readers that could be handed to passengers at the end of their trip.

According to the New York Times, the pilot would run for about a year, and then the Commission would decide on whether to adopt the technology across the board.

While the new technology would put taxis more on par with ride-hailing rivals, some commission members and industry leaders expressed concern on whether the new system would be more susceptible to overcharging.

To ensure that the system works properly, the Times reports that officials with the Commission will conduct test runs across the city using both the current meter and the new GPS-based one to confirm they tally the same fares.

Additionally, some advocates raised unease that the new systems may to be readily used by people who are blind or have limited vision.

“The concern is if we have a smartphone or tablet in the front driver compartment somebody sitting in the back with the partition wouldn’t be able to hear it,” Lester Marks, the director of government affairs at Lighthouse Guild, an advocacy group for the visually impaired, tells the Times.

Companies making the new systems – which still have to submit proposals to the Commission – say they haven’t ruled out the possibility of including a passenger-facing device within the system.

Jason Gross, head of product and marketing for a company that currently makes systems for taxis, said the passenger-facing tablets could display maps, offer payment options or other apps.

Tech Inside Yellow Cabs Faces an Overhaul [The Wall Street Journal]
Some New York City Cabs to Lose Taxi TV in Pilot Program [The New York Times]

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