Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I recently had the pleasure and impeccable timing of visiting NYC during a two day taxi strike, implemented by New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). The strike was in protest to new city technology rules which require that all taxis be fitted with credit card machines and GPS units. I would note that the majority of the cabbies for the approximate 13,000 yellow cabs in the city did participate in the protest by shutting off meters and attempting to negotiate fare upfront.
Whether or not the strike was a success depends on whom you talk to, NYC officials whom passed the rules or the TLC. I think it's too tough to call right now as the technology is only installed in about 1,500 taxis while the remaining 11,500 taxis are supposed to have it installed by January of 2008. A recount closer to that time should reveal which side wins out.
I would think that installing GPS units would be to each taxi company's advantage in the long run, allowing the dispatch center to coordinate fare pick-ups better for a few taxis that may be in the vicinity...... more than likely saving in gas and maximizing driving time with actual fares.
The only downside I see from a cabby's viewpoint is if the tracking data was required to be made available publicly. This may be one of their concerns, as I am sure that the cabbies don't want to be held liable for taking the "scenic route" while transporting tourists. FYI - crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to get from Grand Central Station to Central Park is not a shortcut.
If the data was made available publicly for mapping applications, etc. it would be of great use to riders to coordinate their own fares within a specific time frame. It would also be of use for riders whom note their cab number when leaving from/arriving to their destination as it may assist them in tracking down personal items accidentally left behind.
It should be interesting to see what happens as the outcome will probably set the trend for taxi transportation in other major cities.
By the way, if you happen to be heading to NYC anytime soon you may want to check out the Farestimator, a cab fare mashup, I recently came across. Hopefully it will help you avoid the "scenic route" or the Brooklyn Bridge shortcut while giving you an estimate of what your taxi fare should be.