The TLC SmartCab promises to revolutionize the taxi experience for both drivers and passengers. New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission decided about two years ago that it was time for a technology upgrade, and results are just now hitting NYC's taxi fleet.
The TLC SmartCab was designed by Digital Dispatch and includes three elements: A GPS device, the Vector 530 Driver Information Monitor (above right), and the iView 8000 Passenger Information Monitor (above left).
In addition to GPSâ€”which is something I've wished a driver has had more than onceâ€”the driver's route tracking is dramatically simplified. Instead of writing down each trip (often while driving) the logging is done automatically when the meter is started and stopped. At the end of their shift drivers simply print out a report of their fares, including GPS-provided start and stop locations. Other benefits include the ability for the TLC or the taxi fleet to send out system wide messages about traffic, accidents or the unpleasantness of NYC's ubiquitous street fairs. It also protects drivers because the taxis can be located at any time.
The Passenger's experience provides even more benefits. A touch screen monitor mounted into the back side of the front seat provides passengers with GPS-driven map data, fare information, live video, news and city information. When the trip is over the fare information is presented in large type with a tip calculator and a summary of additional costs. Best of all, you can swipe your ATM or credit card to pay the fare.
With increased fares and the fact that taking a taxi in NYC is no longer a bargain this is at least one benefit for passengers.