Fans of finding a free cab, this could be awesome: The TLC is seriously considering completely overhauling the way taxis display if they are on- or off-duty. Gone could be the days of being unsure if that cab is done for the day or able to pick up one last fare. In the new world order that TLC chair David Yassky is proposing, a taxi's status will be a binary thing, either available or unavailable. Yes please!
Right now, in case you've forgotten, there are four roof light options available for cabbies: They can have their medallion light on and their off-duty lights off (the cab is ready to pick you up); both lights off (the cab has a passenger); the medallion light off but the off-duty lights on (the cab is off duty but taking its last fare); or both lights on (the cab is off-duty but can pick up one last fare at the driver's discretion). "To the uninitiated, we wonder whether the system isn’t a little confusing," Yassky said yesterday.
A system in which cabs are either able to take fares or not works quite well in other cities (like London) and there isn't much reason to think it wouldn't work here as well. Plus, it'll make for one less argument New Yorkers have to have with each other (and tourists) on a regular basis. The TLC is still mulling the idea (they'd love your thoughts either on this survey or on Facebook). The TLC's next public meeting is scheduled for October 20.
As for when you could expect to see the new lights? Probably not until the "Taxi of Tomorrow" starts hitting the streets in earnest in 2013.