Some 1,000 New York City yellow taxis will soon participate in a year-long pilot program that will test GPS-based taximeters to learn if they would make fares and billing more accurate for passengers, while also dovetailing with future taxi-hailing apps and technologies.
The GPS meter pilot project was approved Oct. 15 by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates the city's approximately 13,600 yellow taxicabs, according to a story by The Wall Street Journal. The pilot aims to see how global positioning systems (GPS) built into taxi meters can make improvements for taxi passengers and operators, the story reported.
The GPS meters will replace the dashboard-mounted traditional electronic fare meters found in today's taxicabs.
The taxi commission is exploring GPS meter technologies in hopes that improved systems could help traditional taxicabs compete more efficiently against newfangled competition from app-based ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, the article said.
"Ultimately, it is to create a more nimble system," Meera Joshi, chairwoman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, told The Journal. The full commission approved the pilot program for the city's participating taxis.
Under existing rules, New York's yellow taxis must have at least five pieces of equipment installed in the vehicles, including a Taxi TV device, which shows news, ads and other information; a monitor for drivers; a credit card reader; a taximeter and a vehicle-location system, the article said. "The pilot program could reduce that to one large tablet," the report continued.
The pilot project is expected to begin with a few cars and could be expanded to up to 1,000 taxis. The pilot systems could come from up to four different manufacturers, according to the article.
The city has already been moving to regulate what kinds of vehicles can be used as taxis in New York, as well as making other changes in the city's taxi fleet.
A spokesperson for the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission did not respond immediately to a request from eWEEK for more information about the program.
Taxicab operations are undergoing changes and growing pains in other parts of the country as well as traditional taxi companies looking for new ways to compete against app-based rivals.
Last December, officials in Chicago and New York City proposed smartphone apps to hail traditional taxicabs as one way to help cabbies and cab companies level the playing field when it comes to customers who want to find a ride by using an app on their mobile devices, according to an earlier eWEEK report.
Since the rise of ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft and others, passengers have been using mobile devices more often to summon personal drivers, mostly at the expense of taxi companies that have been prevented from offering such tools by regulations written long before smartphones were ever invented.