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]
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]
Here are three tips for avoiding getting ripped off by taxi drivers in foreign countries:
1.) Before getting in a taxi that doesn’t use a meter, make sure you agree on the fare with the driver so you won’t get a surprise at the end of the ride.
2.) To avoid misunderstandings, have the hotel staff write the addresses of your destination and the hotel in the local language so you can show it to the taxi driver. Also, carry a map with the locations circled to show the driver in case they are not in a popular area.
3.) Carry bills in small denominations and change to pay; drivers often don’t carry change for large bills… or say they don’t.
I’ve lived in big cities most of my adult life, and like to consider myself fairly travel-savvy. But for whatever reason, I’m awful at hailing taxis. While others simply look up, snap their fingers — and poof — 5 cabs appear, I wait forever, wander around the block, wave my arms frantically, and nothing happens.
One New York cab driver and entrepreneur may have just the solution I need. Jason Diaz has just launched 1-800-cab-ride.com — a company which he hopes can be the premiere nationwide sales organization for the taxi business. Diaz hopes that becoming the only big name brand in what’s otherwise a series of mom and pop businesses, that he’ll do for the taxi industry what 1-800-flowers did for the flower delivery business.
It seems even more straightforward than you think. Not only does the service let you book taxis in advance, you pay a flat fee up front — fare, tip and taxes included — with your credit card, so there’s no need to find a cash machine every time you need a ride. Plus, no risk of being overcharged in a city you’re not familiar with by an unscrupulous driver who keeps “getting lost.”
Heads are butting in Minneapolis between Muslim cab drivers and passengers trying to get a ride. USA Today has a story on the situation saying many Muslim drivers are refusing service to passengers carrying wine, spirits, or any type of booze what-so-ever. Many of the cab drivers in the Minneapolis area are Somali Muslim and have stated that driving passengers with alcohol is against their faith and Islamic law. Additionally, they’ve also told dispatchers not to call them to pick up passengers heading to liquor stores and bars. Not all Muslims agree that Muslim cab drivers are not allowed to transport alcohol – the main ban is against drinking. Passengers have complained that they’ve been turned away by up to four cabs before finding a ride home from the airport. Bummer. Sounds like a major clash in cultures and hopefully they’ll be able to make some middle ground. In the end I’m sure the taxi drivers will lose out (perhaps not in faith), but in deals that pay bills. Someone will come along and fill the void for passengers that just want to go to Italy and come back with their fine wines in peace. Read the full story at USA Today.