[telecom] The Push to Make Cab Rides Smarter

The Push to Make Cab Rides Smarter


When it comes to technology, 2007 was the last big year for taxis. That year, New York City began requiring that cabs be fitted with devices so that customers could pay with credit cards and with GPS devices so that they could track their progress on touch screens in the back. (Cabbies went on strike twice before the gadgets were finally installed.) Also that year, Apple introduced the iPhone, although the cab connection was not immediately apparent.

It became clear, though, as developers created a number of taxi-related products. Report a Taxi allows riders to complain about bad drivers directly to the Taxi and Limousine Commission (or praise good ones) with an iPhone app. The ratio is about four complaints for every compliment, the company says. (Riders can also complain to Facebook or Twitter.) Another app, Cab Sense, used the data being collected by in-cab computers to put together a map showing which corners are best for hailing a ride, although it has not updated its data since 2010.

The most ambitious projects are smartphone apps that book and pay for cars directly. Uber, which began operating in New York last year, has become a darling of the technology industry for an app that allows a rider to call for a car and charge it directly to an online account. It has spurred a number of competitors. Taxi Magic , which operates a similar service in 35 cities, introduced a new app last week called Sedan Magic, bringing it to New York for the first time.


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***** Moderator's Note *****

As an Engineer at Verizon, I flew into LaGuardia on a regular basis. The company had a trip marshall at the airport who would direct employees to whichever transports were available, matching passenges to destinations.

Sometimes, we'd be put into cabs, sometimes limos. The cab drivers always complained that the "Tattlers" their bosses put on the cars deprived them of the chance to use their experience to find the fastest route. I used to make jokes about how I always wanted to see Grant's tomb, but I had to stop because most of them took offense.

Bill Horne Moderator

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Monty Solomon
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