2007_05_taxisystem.jpgCome October, your experience in the backseat of a taxi could be a little more high-tech. The Taxi & Limousine Commission unanimously approved touch-screen "passenger information monitors" for all 13,000 yellow cabs on the streets. In addition to showing information, entertainment, and advertising, these monitors will show a map of the taxi's current location using GPS. The new systems would also accept credit card payments. Some cab drivers expressed their opposition to the systems, citing the large costs and privacy issues of the GPS systems. The systems (medalion owners have 4 to choose from) are supposed to have a maximum three-year cost of $7,400.

A handful of taxi drivers even hinted at the possibility of a strike, with one telling amNY, "If there is a strike I will join it." The monitors, which have been undergoing a 200 unit test, was a condition of the 2004 fare hike (not to be confused with the 2006 fare hike), when fares went up 26%, something Mayor Bloomberg noted when asked about a strike. Some industry experts claim that the monitors are good for drivers because of the added possibility of advertising revenue. The TLC says the systems will help drivers because transactions can be quick and cashless and the GPS can provide traffic information. For passengers, the TLC says there are mute buttons on the systems, it will aid in the return of lost property, and riders can look up entertainment options at their destination.

The TLC website has more details on all the features that were approved in their plans as well as a video (2 mb .wmv file) showing how one of the proposed systems works. Taxis are required to have the systems installed starting October 1st as they come up for inspection.

Photo of concept taxi from the Taxi 07 exhibit at the NY International Auto Show by Tien Mao; Photo of one model of the back seat display via the AP