Focus groups now are meeting in yellow cabs across the city.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission Tuesday began quizzing passengers via backseat monitors in each of the city’s 13,237 taxis – asking how much money they earn, whether they are traveling for business or leisure and what they most like – or dislike – about cabs.
“In 2011, any business tries to learn as much as it can about its customers in order to serve them better,” TLC Commissioner David Yassky said. “That’s what we’re doing here.”
At any given time, a cab monitor will feature one of eight different surveys. Each survey has only three or four questions, so a passenger can complete it during even the shortest of jaunts.
Riders also are asked to give feedback on the driver. Does he know how to get where you want to go? Is he speaking on a cell phone? Is the radio on?
The agency won’t use the survey to penalize drivers who can’t find the Empire State Building or violate rules prohibiting phone use.
“There’s no particular agenda behind most of these questions,” Yassky said.
But answers to some questions could help the agency make some policy decisions, he said. Riders, for example, are asked if they are confused by the roof light, which is supposed to declare whether a cabbie is on or off duty. The TLC is considering changing the design.
One cabbie, who identified himself only as Tarique of Queens, said he is unfazed.
“I don’t mind,” he said. “I think as long as I do a good job, I’ll get a good review.”
Some passengers seemed eager to put in their two cents. One woman gave a reporter a thumbs up from the backseat of a cab.
“Great idea,” she said.
Norma Jennings, 46, a cab rider from Tribeca, complained that cabbies regularly fail to stop for members of minority groups.
“I would definitely answer the survey since I’ve had bad experiences,” Jennings said. “I would like to see if anything does change.”
Jim Conley, 53, also of Tribeca, wasn’t taking the survey too seriously.
“I think as long as it’s optional, it’s amusing,” he said. “My kids would probably have a lot of fun answering those questions.”