Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New York May Ditch Taxi TVs Because They're Bothersome, And Replace Them With 'SQUARE', From San Francisco. By John Han,.

New York Taxi TV Screen
The loud, blaring Taxi TVs in New York may be so annoying to its riders, that the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is now expected to look at an alternative.

According to a New York Times article this week, the San Francisco card processing service known as “Square”, which has gained favor amongst cab drivers in San Francisco for reasonable processing rates, (and no noise), is expected to formally present its technology to the New York TLC next month.

As a pilot program, Square is proposing to replace fifty of New York's often criticized "Taxi TVs" with “similarly shaped iPads or other tablets” in the rear seats of cabs, and without the noise, according to the New York Times.  

Verfione Media and Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT), two companies controlling the Taxi TV market, and who have contracts with major networks like NBC and ABC to target the industry's vast and captive audiences nationwide, have blocked Square at least once before from fraying into the New York territory.    

But David Yassky, chairman of the TLC, told the New York Times, "Our job isn't to look out for the welfare of a particular company".   In that article, he later added, "My job is to get the best product and technology available to taxis and passengers."  The New York Times full story can be read HERE

If approved, Square could enable passengers to swipe their cards from the back seat at any point in the cab ride, note their location, interact in social networking, and while some people (including this author) could think it a little silly, even play computer games.  

But more importantly to cab drivers, Square could challenge the dominant, taxi industry practice of 5% that companies like Verifone, CMT, and others are currently charging taxi drivers all over the country for credit card fees.  Square could bring the fees down to  2.75% across the board, a rate generally considered more normal for day to day businesses.  

Square card processing on a smart phone
Recently, the New York Post, in an article titled, “All 'hail' the iPad.  Back-seat tablets eyed for cab riders," had this to say about Square's services vs. the Taxi TVs, 

The city may ditch the blaring taxi TVs that drive passengers and cabbies nuts and replace them with iPads, officials said yesterday." (February 21, 2012)

The same New York Post story published this about Square's offer to the New York TLC. 

"A private company has proposed a pilot program that would remove the current screens — which run a continuous loop of local news segments and commercials from TV stations — and install the tablet computers, city officials told The Post. It would be tried out in 50 cabs.

And in the same article, at least one New York cab driver's opinion on Square is,

It sounds better than this,” said Orlando Morales, a cabby for two decades, as he pointed to the screen in the back of his yellow taxi.

It’s all the same garbage over and over. It drives me nuts listening to this s--t all day long.”

Also, in New York's 'Gothamist' article dated February 21, 2012, and titled, “Forget Taxi TVs, Taxi iPads Are (Probably) Coming Soon.”, the author of that article opines,

...don't be shocked when this program gets a green light on March 1. And don't be upset!

The program would not only mean that cabbies wouldn't have to deal with an endless loop of pithy news bites, it would also mean that passengers would be able to swipe their credit card at any time, get receipts via text or e-mail, play some games even and use a far more familiar interface than the hodgepodge currently available.”

And in a February 2011 survey of 22,000 New York taxi riders,  31.3% (over one-third) said Taxi TVs are the worst part about taking a taxi.


  1. I hope that happen in SF very soon.

  2. Wish that San Francisco can get rid of 5 % fee altogether.

    This fee is included in our gate fee. The more and more given to the cab companies will result in demand from the drivers to increase their fare which ultimately effect the public.

    Drivers are going to protest on MARCH 6th about this 5 % fee which BOS advised SFMTA not to charge the drivers and all other
    actions still going on in SFMTA.

    Taxi drivers spent 36 hours in town hall meetings with Taxi staff of SFMTA. When SFMTA failed to gain anything, they introduced Rodman and presented him with 15 pre-arranged people for interview in which nearly 80 % were suitable to this Staff
    for what wrong they have done. So much so they brought in a bloger who do not represent even one person and who lies and lies
    all over his blogs.

  3. i am not sure about the decision. if it has some new law issues then it sounds like the right decision. this article was very well written and a lot easier for me to comprehend


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