New York solicits taxicab tech ideas

The general public, as well as companies in the technology and taxicab industries, are asked for their two cents on how the city can improve taxi services with tech.

In 2007, Kia Motors America and several design firms devised a taxi that could display its destination and indicate whether a passenger was interested in splitting a fare. Candace Lombardi/CNET

You got a better idea on how taxis should work? New York City is all ears.

On Tuesday, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) put out a request for information on how it can improve its taxi technology.

The TLC, in conjunction with the Design Trust for Public Space, staged an elaborate display at the New York International Auto Show in 2007 of taxis with innovative ideas on sustainability and design. Now it seems that the TLC wants to ensure that the public is aware of its interest in tech beyond hybrids.

The city's contracts with service providers for its tech tools program--referred to as the Taxicab Passenger Enhancement Program, or T-PEP--expire in about two years. The TLC seems to be shopping for options on how "to enhance the technology systems in each taxicab for the benefit of passengers, drivers, and owners alike," according to the announcement.

Photos of Taxi 07 Exhibit

The request, which closes June 15, has been made to the general public as well as taxicab and technology companies. Proposals and comments can be e-mailed to policymail@tlc.nyc.gov, faxed to 212-676-1002, or mailed to NYC TLC, 40 Rector Street, 5th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10006.

The TLC said it's open to any ideas, but it listed key interests. Here are some of the more intriguing ideas:

  • Cell phone-blocking technology (for drivers while engaged, but not passengers!)
  • Wayfinding (knowing location, finding best routes)
  • Multiple metered rate of fare and split-fare capabilities
  • Radio frequency identification (RFID) readers or biometrics to ensure use by authorized drivers.
  • Better, more informative receipts with driver information, easier-to-read/larger print, coupons, advertising, promotions, and receipts delivered electronically to an e-mail address.
  • Driver debit card (income deposited directly into drivers' bank accounts) linked to benefits, i.e. discounts on car washes, fuel, restaurants, etc.
  • Multiple languages
  • Music and music video menu
  • Internet or Wi-Fi capability (check e-mail, surf Web, shop, etc.)
  • Real-time interactivity with TLC to facilitate surveys, complaints, compliments.
About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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