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Touch-screen monitors have cab drivers fuming in NYC

If you've ever been to New York City, you should have a pretty healthy appreciation for taxi cab drivers, especially if you're a pedestrian! Taxi cab drivers are everywhere -- that is, when they're not on strike, which is the current state of affairs in the Big Apple. Why? New GPS touch-screen devices for passengers.

If you've ever been to New York City, you should have a pretty healthy appreciation for taxi cab drivers, especially if you're a pedestrian! Taxi cab drivers are everywhere -- that is, when they're not on strike, which is the current state of affairs in the Big Apple. In fact, an estimated three quarters of the city's taxi drivers have put it in park. See the news story, "GPS Tiff Drives Cranky NYC Cabbies to Strike Again." (TechNewsWorld | AP)

Here's the lowdown:

Some of the city's taxi drivers went on strike Monday to protest new rules requiring installation of equipment that would let passengers watch TV, pay with credit cards, and check their location on GPS.

City officials say the touch screen devices help passengers by making payments more convenient and lost items easier to locate. However, the Taxi Workers Alliance said it called the strike -- the second over the issue in six weeks -- because the technology is a costly invasion of cabbies' privacy and works erratically at best.

Ok, I can understand the "working erratically" part. If a passenger swipes a credit card, leaves the cab, and a couple minutes later the machine says the card was denied, that would put a cabbie in a potentially expensive predicament. However, I fail to see how GPS is an bad thing, especially in such a large city where taxis can be car-jacked, people's luggage can be forgotten in a back seat or a truck, and passengers can actually see the shortest travel route and not be taken advantage of (or as easily anyway).

What are your thoughts about this new technology in taxi cabs? Are you for or against it?

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

21 comments
GSG
GSG

I've never been to NY, but if it's like Chicago, I don't want to go. I took an airport shuttle van from O'Hare to my hotel in Buffalo Grove, and the driver insisted that this attractive young lady, with a low-cut top and "enhancements" sit up front with him. He almost wrecked several times because he was looking down her blouse instead of at the road. The only thing that saved us was the yell of, "Oh God, we're going to die because he's a horndog." and the young lady put her jacket on after prompting from a fellow passenger. I categorically deny that I yelled anything and you can't prove it was me.

hello
hello

as a woman i know from me and my friends that many cab drivers from third world nations are used to treating women as chattle. have flashed, sexually abused, hit, pulled hair, and verbally abused their women passengers. they often take off in the opposite direction that a woman asks and to very desolate areas. i have gotten out of a cab far from my destination (even while pregnant), just to ensure my safety from a cab driver that i realize has no intent to take me where i'm going. when you have a system that allows illegal immigrants who are possibly criminal from other countries to be in charge of the safety and well-being of their passenger, that is a recipe for disaster. the gps is one way to protect the city's liability, but it isn't all they should do.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Press a button and the Police are hailed---

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

Taxi cab drivers in NYC are on strike because of new touch-screen technology that enables passengers to watch TV, pay with credit cards, and check their location on GPS. What are your thoughts about this new technology in taxi cabs? Are you for or against it?

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

A VERY few of the cabs had GPS and CC payment options. Everywhere else on the planet seems to have gotten with the time, but NYC hasn't. It's a real hassle to carry around tons of cash to pay for cabs. Why should I have to? Hell, to make matters worse, it's hard to get receipts paying cash in a cab... Oh and FDR from NYU hospital to Battery Park is WAY faster than the backroads.

unhappyuser
unhappyuser

We live out in the boonies and I don't think I've ever ridden in a cab. Here's a response from a definite outside: Watch TV? Are you in a cab that long? That might benefit the taxi cab company as the customer might want to finish watching the news or that rerun of Seinfeld. Credit Cards - that could help or hurt the drivers (mostly hurt). They could get no tips unless it's automatically added with the fee. They will be helped financially if the tip is added in automatically but it will then show up as income. Of course, we ALL are truthful about our income, yes? GPS - I like the idea as it will be very helpful in getting to those out-of-the-way places. The blame is not 100% on the drivers for speeding. The "customer" is also when he/she needs to get to that meeting asap. If caveats are put in place I would be for it. EMD

Inkling
Inkling

I think that the machines are a great idea. However, I do not think I like the idea of some government beauracracy forcing a business to do something like this. I haven't had the chance to study up on the reasoning, so using only what is stated in this article, I would have to say that while our reasons are probably very different, I would side with the cabbies on this. I'm a pessimist and when it comes to government beauracracies trying to force things like this I see two reasons: (1) The company making the things is in the background padding the pockets of the TLC so they can make money off the cab businesses. (2) The TLC, or someone with some influence over them, is in need of some good will from the citizens of NYC. I'd be interested to hear from someone that knows more about the subject.

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

The reasons they are all making a big stink about the GPS devices and the credit card devices are because of the following: GPS can track how fast they are going, and knowing that NYC cab drivers are reckless and tend to speed and cause accidents by dodging in and out of traffic, know that they will be monitored and may lose their TLC licenses. The issue with credit card readers is that people will stop paying tips if paying by credit card and the cab drivers won't be able to pocket some unclaimed cash in the process. NYC yellow cab drivers are the most reckless and crooked people that exist, and I'm glad that the TLC commission is starting to monitor and control their actions. I've had a few friends and colleagues end up in the hospital because they were hit by speeding yellow cabs when crossing the street or rear ended by one at a busy intersection. I have no sympathy towards yellow cab drivers because if they drive like maniacs, they deserve to have their licenses suspended.

computerd}}
computerd}}

The Fifth Element. How did it help him. I'm sure it would keep the cabbies from driving so poorly.

rhomp2002
rhomp2002

I live in Queens and I have had cab drivers stop and ask me on the street where such and such a place is. With the GPS this would not happen. There have been many instances of cab drivers taking the scenic route and the passengers having to fork out many times what they should have. GPS would help there as well. I like the idea of paying by credit cards because I don't like to carry too much cash at a time. I can always tip the driver without putting the tip on the credit card. Watching TV in the cab? Whatever for! I don't usually watch TV out of the cab let alone in the cab. Total wast, that one. All in all I am definitely in favor of this one. I don't usually take cabs but when I do I like the idea that I can have some control over what the driver is doing with my life.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

step in and tell them you're from the midwest and want to get to the empire state building. They'll get you there, by driving 20 miles out of the way and overcharging you.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

they just can't pocket the tips as untaxed income. I had one taxi run a red light on main blvd 15 seconds after it turned red and come real close to me, as I headed east out of Port Authority. They also run criminals to / from jobs. Drug dealers, burglars, robberies, prostitutes, etc. will be easier to track then. GPS tracking won't track speeds in detail. They need enhanced electronics for this. And something like DriveCam, which is a 'black box' that saves the last 10 seconds in a continuous loop video recording if impact sensors tell it to. Also monitors acceleration and speeding. Fleets are installing these, as are parents of teenagers.

ganyssa
ganyssa

and oddly enough, my scariest ever experience in a cab was in Quebec City. But I can't see how GPS devices and credit card acceptance are bad things. Call me cynical, but my first thought was the real argument against GPS is then the green tourists will know just how far off the beaten track they ended up when the fare was three times what it should have been. *edited because although I generally spell fine, sometimes it's the wrong word

seanferd
seanferd

Here's another first & last time for me: LOL I'll never write that again. But I had to, this time. Big Ole Jack: I had a friend, and also an employer who drove like madmen, albeit in their own individual idioms. The kind of guys that drove in a manner that would cause me to reflexively grab the armrest handle and brace my feet on the floorpan until I was practically suspending myself diagonally arcoss the seat. Nothin' like a little cardiovascular workout.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

They're afraid that the GPS will show them Driving from Times square to Queens via the Bronx!

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

When you have to grab on to something and start praying that you won't end up being ejected through the front windshield or having your head plastered against the dividing partition, you know it's time to get the hell out of that cab and let the driver kill himself and nobody else...hopefully. These suicidal morons for drivers still think they're back in India or Pakistan, where driving in such a manner is considered "acceptable" and pedestrians are fair game when it comes to road kill. Sorry, but they're no longer back in their home countries and need to abide by traffic regulations set forth to protect both motorists and pedestrians from injury or death. The problem is that they simply don't care and never will because they are too arrogant to give a crap. Even the NYPD is getting very annoyed and frustrated at having to constantly pull them over for reckless driving.

seanferd
seanferd

what the cabbies union would do if drivers were required by law to pass extensive testing like they have in London? Even the driver wouldn't need GPS then. It would also seriously cut down on maniac drivers and those who can't understand or be understood by the customers. (Or you could just use this litle touch screen, but we're putting a governor on your engine.) I had ONE cab ride in NYC, and it was my last (crossed the ol' double-yellow doing about double-nickels). I stuck with the subway after that.

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

I can't begin to tell you how many times I needed to give directions to the cab driver to get me to where I was going. I may as well have driven the cab for him and billed him for being in the passenger seat. If I have to tell them how to get to where I'm going or the best route, then I may as well drive there myself. Sorry, not tips for clueless dolts.

mister.rye.guy
mister.rye.guy

They had a Multi-Pass system that was linked to their credits. There was no cash. Korben Dallas drove like a maniac b/c the fuzz were chasing him. It's a 'monitoring machine'. If it was hooked into the vehicle's CPU and could be used as a speed limiter or vehicle shut-off, THEN I could see why raising a big stink makes sense. There's still the human element. If the cabbie does a good job, pay the fare with your card and slip him a fiver (or whatever you wanna pay).

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

and Camden and make a quick pit stop in Red Hook or Bushwick, Brooklyn just to give the tourist a sense of the true urban environment.

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