Transportation Nation

NYC's Taxi TV Gets A New Channel

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Taxi TV (photo by Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

(Kathleen Horan -- New York, WNYC) Since it debuted two years ago, Taxi TV hasn’t gotten great reviews. But the city is promising more choices that it hopes will boost its popularity this fall.

The city’s municipal television station, NYC Media, will create a second channel with programming that includes segments on the arts, food, animals and ways to enjoy NY "on the cheap." It is scheduled to debut in October.

"I picture myself as the template for going into that cab and saying, 'Oh, this is fun, this is cool … I want to go to this Bangladeshi restaurant. I want to see this free concert in Bryant Park,'" said Diane Petzke, general manager at NYC Media.

She said the new channel will offer more hyper-local content that real New Yorkers will enjoy. Currently the single channel shows news briefs and weather updates, as well as lifestyle programming that’s provided by WABC-TV and NBC TV — in between the commercials.

The advertisements pay for the programming, but neither of the two vendors who operate the screens, Creative Mobile Technologies or Verifone Technology Systems, would say how much revenue they make selling ad time in the back of cabs.

Regardless, most passengers say, it’s not the amount of the commercials or the current content that is at the heart of the matter — they’d rather do without the TVs altogether.

In a survey conducted by the city this year, more than 31 percent of customers said they found the TVs the second most annoying thing about riding in a taxi, after the price.

"I just don’t think I have to be that connected all the time," taxi passenger Harry Shroder said. He turns off Taxi TV as quickly as he can. "I rather enjoy a moment of relaxation, even if it's in a cab which is not that relaxing. I would prefer to have it off."

Frank Trolly, who has been driving a cab in the city for the last five decades, agrees. He doesn’t think the second channel will be much of a hit because most people are more interested in their own gadgets. "Either they’re on a cell phone, and that’s interrupting them, and they’re saying 'can you shut that off.'"

The Taxi and Limousine Commission said that according to their data, people switch off the screens about 22 percent of the time.

TLC Commissioner David Yassky said he understands. "I've seen some emails along the lines of the, 'TV is annoying and intrusive and I think you should get rid of it.'" But he added this is the first step towards improving the service. He said the two vendors who operate the TVs have agreed to pay for focus groups in their new contract with the city to see what passengers like and don’t like in future versions of Taxi TV.

Alan Stern, who takes cabs frequently for his job in real estate, welcomed another Taxi TV channel. "I think it’s good to have another choice because right now you just have the same news like every 10 minutes, so it would be good to have an added feature for yourself for sure. Some of those cab rides can be long and costly — at least you’re getting something for your money."

And, if you still don't like it, Yassky said you’ll soon be able to mute the introduction on TV screens as well.

You can listen to the story below.


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Transportation Nation

NYC Cabbies: Economics at Root of Outer-Borough Refusals

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A taxi driver gives change to a customer on 7th Avenue at Penn Station. (Getty Images)

(New York, NY -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) Complaints about taxi drivers refusing to take passengers to their desired destinations have increased by more than a third over the last year.  So the city is moving ahead with a plan to increase fines and penalties. Officials hope expensive tickets and the risk of suspended, or even a revoked license will stop drivers from saying "no" to customers.  Drivers say that while there are many reasons why they decline a trip--most agree, the overall problem is essentially a financial one.

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"Refusals stick in the craw of a lot of New Yorkers," said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky. "It may be a small issue in terms of dollars and cents compared to other things, but it's a big issue in terms of how it feels."

It's not as if drivers loathe going to the outer boroughs — most live there. But to be successful, drivers said they have to focus on volume and not distance.    For the rest of the story, click here.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Unintended Consequences of the Tarmac Rule, NJ Transit Not Eager to Repay $271 Million, and Cabbies Help Tweak GPS

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wisconsin gov-elect Scott Walker's response to Ray LaHood: fix roads before you build rail. Also, some friendly advice: "All across the country, in states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida, the voters chose new governors who are opposed to diverting transportation funding to passenger rail. I believe it would be unwise for the Obama administration to ignore the will of the voters." (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

New Jersey is not exactly whipping out its checkbook to repay $271 million to the Federal Transit Administration for the canceled ARC tunnel project, because "NJ Transit does not agree that the issues are as clear cut as portrayed in the FTA letter." (Asbury Park Press)

US airlines are stranding less passengers--but canceling more flights. Unintended consequences of the tarmac rule? (Bloomberg via MPR)

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 41% of drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point. (Los Angeles Times)

How can you improve GPS directions? Ask a cabbie. (Good)

Lansing wants to dip its toes into bus rapid transit. (Lansing State Journal)

Czech transport minister loses his license for 6 months for driving without valid license plates. (Czech Happenings)

Good Magazine wants to know: What is the best bus route in America?

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37 NYC Cabbies Surrender Licenses

Monday, July 19, 2010

More than three dozen cabbies who overcharged passengers are surrendering their licenses. The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) says they were among the worst of the drivers who charged double-rate suburban fares within the city limits.



37 NYC Cabbies Caught Overcharging Passengers Surrender Their Licenses

Monday, July 19, 2010

More than three dozen cabbies who overcharged passengers are surrendering their licenses. The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) says the 37 cabbies were among the worst of the drivers who charged double-rate suburban fares within the city limits. The TLC says those drivers overcharged more than 50 times.



Cabbies Hurt by Recession Too...and They're Taking That Pain to Albany

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A fleet of NYC yellow cabs is driving up to Albany this morning to protest the state senate's latest proposal to balance the MTA budget--a $1 surcharge on cab rides. Taxi drivers say they'll be bearing the brunt of the tax. Joe Morone says he knows from his 35 ...