Perhaps the biggest threat to the traditional yellow taxi industry doesn’t come from the newly emerging competition, but from the simple fact that riders are searching for comfortable and convenient rides. Passengers are going to gravitate towards the service that fits these needs and offers them the ability to be productive, even while in the backseat of a taxi. This has led the taxi industry to search for improvements within the taxi experience that would draw in and keep their customers.
Like any service and business out there, the taxi industry took a good look at what was working well and what wasn’t. One area that received quite a bit of feedback from both drivers and passengers was the Taxi TV that has been embedded in the back of yellow taxi cabs across New York for a good decade. While the idea of having a tv in a taxi sounded like a good idea at the time, it slowly turned into something that annoyed passengers with their repetitive ads and inability to turn off or mute. To replace the tvs and to offer passengers a more desired high-tech experience, the taxi industry is rolling out a new gadget in 2017: tablets.
Starting in 2016, tvs will be removed from a number of taxis in New York City and Verifone Systems will instead install new 10-inch tablets that will completely change the way passengers enjoy a taxi ride. These high tech tablets will have a variety of apps that can provide an easy way to make a dining reservation or stream their favorite music on the way to the airport. Movie tickets can be reserved or a phone call can be made when needed. Whatever you can typically do on your own smartphone or tablet, you can do here.
These tablets will also offer tap-to-pay technology and have built-in USB chargers to conveniently charge a passengers smartphone. The credit card readers will accept mobile payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. The options are endless on this new gadget.
“I like to think of this as a dashboard for your taxi ride,” said Jason Gross, global head of product and marketing for taxi systems at Verifone. “It may just be the information you want or need to understand where you’re going, how much it’s costing, but it also gives you some tools.”
Drivers will also have access to a smaller 7-inch tablet that contains several safety features such as a security camera and a panic button. It will also provide an all-in-one meter, dispatch and navigation device and offer the most accurate fares.
This new tablet and technology is focused on providing a platform for the owners and operators of taxis to be connected with passengers who need transportation.
Verifone will be rolling out this new technology at the same that an e-hail app, Flywheel, has been allowed to be installed inside a New York City taxi in 12 years. Taxi drivers are excited for the possibilities of the new e-hail apps to help lift their competitiveness against Uber and Lyft. And while the value of taxi medallions in New York City have significantly decreased in the past couple of years, there is some hope to hold onto.
“I think the regulatory pendulum is swinging back,” Gross said. “They’re loosening up some on taxis and they’re cracking down some of the [transportation network companies].”
But the fact of the matter is that if taxi drivers want to remain competitive with Uber and other services that offer transportation, they are going to have to be innovative and continue to change and improve what they can offer. These new tablets and services are certainly a step in the right direction.
YellowCabNYCTaxi.com Staff Writer