New Yorkers aren't exactly known for a "sharing is caring" attitude, but cab riders across town may soon be forced to make room in the back seat for total strangers, if several new proposals are approved by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Today the TLC will meet to discuss and possibly vote on three pilot programs they say would help reduce congestion, make more cabs available, and pull in extra money for hacks. Under consideration:
- In a pilot program, 1,000 yellow cabs would be equipped with meters that could calculate two fares at once, allowing cabbies to stop en route and pick up additional passengers. The taxis would be retrofitted with electronic signs showing the neighborhoods where they're headed, and when a second rider hops in, the first rider would get a 50% discount on the rest of his or her (awkward? romantic?) journey.
- In the second proposal, several taxi stands would serve as group-ride pickup locations during the morning rush, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. The cabs would travel in a designated corridor, say, from Penn Station up Sixth Avenue to 59th Street, and charge passengers a flat fare of $3 or $4 to be dropped off anywhere along the route.
- The third plan would set up dispatch centers for livery cars in areas with limited access to other forms of mass transportation. Dispatch centers could also be set up in "anticipation" of passengers at peak travel times and at popular destinations such as ferry terminals, bus terminals, and terminus of train and bus lines.
All fine ideas, but who gets to choose which channel to watch on the taxi TV? In a statement, TLC chairman Matthew Daus says the most important thing is that "using the same number of vehicles to serve more people is good for the environment, and passengers will pay less while drivers will earn more-it is a true win-win." According to the Times, the taxi stand pilot program could start as early as autumn, but the multi-meter group ride pilot, if approved, won't begin testing until next year because the new meters and signs have to be installed.