Taxi E-Hailing Test Gets Green Light in NYC

New York City Taxi
Christoph SahleA taxi in NYC.

The ability to hail a taxi from your smartphone is probably in the immediate future for New Yorkers. NYC has been testing e-hailing so passengers can more easily retrieve a taxi. The city recently received the green light from an appeals court to keep moving forward.

A pre-arranged ride has been traditionally prohibited for NYC yellow taxis. When the city began developing the e-hailing system, car services sued, citing that they rely on pre-arranged rides for their income and that the new developments are unfair to their business. This ruling from the appeals court means city taxis are one step closer to being at your beck and call, even if you’re deep into Brooklyn and there isn’t a yellow taxi in sight.

City to Decide on New Taxi Service

New Orleans Cabs Upgraded With Soda Vending Machines

Between the comfort food and the free-spirited partying, New Orleans is certainly a city that knows how to make visitors feel at home. Now, its cabbies are encouraging travelers to kick back and relax with a refreshing drink via new in-vehicle vending machines.

For 99 cents, those traveling in a local taxi are able to purchase a can of soda on the spot. Using a seat-back media screen, passengers can choose from a range of drink options before swiping their card to make the payment. Within moments, a cold can of soda is ejected from the back of the passenger seat.Simon Garber, who owns the New Orleans Carriage Cab and Yellow-Checker Cab companies, came up with the vending machine concept after his son suggested the idea. It took him four years to fine-tune the drinks dispenser, which works by connecting to a fridge holding several dozen cans of soda.

So far, Garber has installed the drink machine in 40 New Orleans taxis, but he hopes to expand the service to other cities including Chicago and New York. Garber says one day, the technology could also be used to sell cologne, umbrellas and other travel necessities.

[via Harriet Baskas]

[Photo credit: Flickr user Sigmar]

The Kimchi-ite: Seoul Offers Rewards To Report Taxi Drivers Who Rip Off Tourists

Last week, the Seoul city government announced a plan to offer up to a 500,000-won (USD $456) reward for anyone who has information on taxi drivers that rip off foreign tourists.

While charging more than the standard metered fare is against South Korean law, sometimes taxis can forget this, in additional to other rules. Red lights get run, taxis find themselves going the wrong direction on the road to save time and meters are accidentally not turned on and the final prices are made up on the spot, slightly inflated.

It isn’t uncommon to find taxi drivers walking around tourist hot spots late at night, such as near Seoul Station or in the foreign district of Itaewon, hounding tourists and locals alike for their business. Many ask tourists where they want to go and offer a price upfront, off the meter. This upfront price is almost always more expensive than what the actual metered rate would have been. If you try to barter with them, or insist they just use the meter, they will often retort back that it is late and you are unlikely to find any other taxis (often said while they are standing directly in front of a dozen other taxis). They take advantage of the fact that many tourists don’t know average fare for their destination and are willing to accept whatever a cab driver tells them.There have been a number of times when I was coming home long after the subway stopped running and was confronted with these cabbie solicitors. The first time I encountered this situation, I naively took one up on his offer. After my next weekend adventure out on the town, I decided to flag down my own cab from that same spot. My metered fare ending up being less than half the price of that previous, un-metered trip. Ever since then, I mostly ignore the solicitors, sometimes asking them for a cheaper fare than the average, but they always turn me down.

It’s good to hear that the city is trying to curb this lax attitude towards the law. It’s a little concerning that this reward system may only apply to foreign tourists that are ripped off, but hopefully it will benefit tourists and locals alike in the future. It will without a doubt give me one less headache on my journey home from a late night out. Hopefully this new measure is enforced and the hotline to report overcharging is published in every Seoul guidebook.

You can report these fraudulent taxi drivers by calling Seoul Information’s “Dasan 120” hotline. Just dial 120 from any phone in Seoul and report it to the multi-lingual staff.

Be sure to check out more Korean bits on Korean culture from “The Kimchi-ite” here.

[Photo Credit: Jonathan Kramer]

New System Makes Hailing A Wheelchair-Accessible Taxi Easy In New York

accessible dispatch When people envision New York, what often comes to mind is the busy streets and the sea of yellow taxis; however, out of the approximately 13,000 cabs in NYC, only 233 are wheelchair accessible. So, in a city where, by law, you must hail a taxi on the street, how is someone who is disabled supposed to get one?

In order to help with the problem, a new system created by Metro Taxi has launched. Called Accessible Dispatch, the company uses a GPS system to tracks each of the 233 wheelchair-accessible taxis. These can be ordered by:

No advance reservation is required, and the taxis will be able to take any passengers from Manhattan to any of the five boroughs, Westchester and Nassau counties and the three regional airports. There are no extra fees, as passengers pay the metered rate starting from when they get in to the vehicle to when they get dropped off. Additionally, all drivers who operate these taxis have been specially trained in wheelchair assistance, boarding and de-boarding conduct, as well as disability awareness and passenger sensitivity.

“This is an entirely new kind of service,” said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky, “and it is a real and tangible reflection of our dedication to making quality taxicab service available to all those who want it.”

[Image via Accessible Dispatch]

Look where cab drivers eat – Dining out tip

Look where cab drivers eat.

There are times in a foreign country when you want to test the culinary prowess of a culture that has a thousand years of history behind it. And there are times when you just want to “tie on the feed bag.”

If you want authentic, down-home grub and you don’t want to be over-charged, follow the cab drivers. If you you see five or so cabs parked in front of a restaurant, you’ve found a cheap, filling, honest meal, sans garnish, with refills on the crank du-jour and plenty of local color.

[Photo: Flickr | Bryson Gilbert]