(Reuters) – Some New York City taxicabs will switch to using GPS-based fare calculators from current metering systems under a pilot program approved on Thursday.
The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to pass a measure to overhaul technology systems in 1,000 city cabs, which currently require bulky televisions and credit card readers.
“It’s just streamlined technology,” commission spokesman Greg Gordon said.
The new systems will be smaller, more portable and less expensive than the current ones, which calculate fares using several physical components, including devices to track the number of times a wheel turns and waiting time, Gordon said.
Four technology companies have been selected to develop the new metering systems.
The pilot program, which will run for up to a year, will begin when the commission approves the first proposed design for testing in cabs. The program initially called for new system testing in 4,000 cabs but was amended and reduced at Thursday’s meeting.
One proposal calls for getting rid of taxicab televisions, which typically play ads on 12-hour loops and have been known to irritate passengers and drivers alike.
All of the city’s 13,500 yellow taxicabs, which are licensed by the city Taxi and Limousine Commission but operated by private companies, were equipped with the current system by November 2008. All featured the taxi TVs.
Four cab operators will test the new systems, which could come in the form of mobile devices that the driver would hand to a passenger at the end of a trip.
Before the new systems can be used in cabs, they will be tested by the commission against hard-wired meters, to ensure they produce the same pricing range, Gordon said.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Eric Walsh)