121907Standard_Taxi_529.jpgLast week we learned that all New York taxis will soon be held to higher fuel efficiency standards; starting next October new cabs must get at least 25 miles per gallon. But the cab changes don’t stop there – in addition to upcoming GPS and touch-screen video technology, the Taxi and Limousine Commission is considering selling an unlimited card for cab riders, which may feature “fare integration” with buses and subways. Over half the city’s 13,000+ cabs are equipped with credit card readers; the TLC expects all of them to take your plastic by spring ’08 – and Metrocards are being proposed as a next step.

The proposal is part of a 163 page report produced by the non-profit Design Trust for Public Space, in a partnership with the TLC. The study also suggests “ride-share fares” for commuters headed the same way; customers would get a 25% discount for sharing. Kick off your shoes and curl up with the whole PDF document – part of the report is dedicated to a comic book style “day in the life” of a cab driver.


Other proposals from the Trust include:

  • Ripping out the old cab upholstery, which contains PBDE, a toxic flame retardant, and leaving the back seat bare like the subway seats.

  • Identify low-demand bus routes and replace them with an MTA-integrated taxi service; identify popular subway stations underserved by taxes, especially during off hours.

  • Drivers should be able to work a nine-hour shift and earn, on average, an amount equivalent to the state minimum wage, when all expenses are taken into account. (Most drivers currently work 12 hour shifts and many cough up $1,500 a month in finance payments on their taxi medallion, which, because of high demand, is currently valued at half a million dollars.)

  • Meet the high demand for cabs during rush hour and storms by selling “peak time” medallions that would only be usable for a limited part of the day and not overwhelm the market at other times.

The end of the report also includes some survey results, which reveal that while most people take cabs because they’re in a rush, a peculiar 4% do so because they “want some private time”! And at yesterday’s press conference announcing the report, TLC commissioner Matt Daus’s boast that taxis will “continue to improve for the next 100 years,” was met with derision by Jean Ryan of the Taxis for All wheelchair-accessibility campaign, who screamed “We can’t wait 100 more years! We can’t get a cab now!”

Peruse some slick graphics about New Yorkers' taxi proclivities and other fun facts that came to light during the study, after the jump. (Top photo of a demo “Standard” taxi by Michael DiVito on display last spring at the Javits Center.)

Here are just a few of the factoids the thorough Trust for Public Space report came up with:

  • 85 percent of taxi rides never leave Manhattan.
  • The average taxi ride is 3.7 miles in length and 13 minutes in duration.
  • Riders take more than 170 million taxi trips per year.
  • 52% of taxi riders are female.
  • 25% of taxi riders earn less than $25,000 a year, another 25% makes $150,000. The average taxi commuter’s salary is 85K.
  • Soon the TLC will be able to transmit messages like lost property alerts to all taxis using short messaging service devices.