If you’ve ever been to NYC hot tourist spots such as Grand Central or Times Square, chances are you’ve had some options when it comes to hailing a cab. However, if you’ve ever been to a not-so-popular area in the city or have tried to catch a cab along with thousands of other people, you know how frustrating it can be to get a ride when you want it. Starting Friday, Feb. 15, anybody in NYC will be able to hail an infamous yellow taxi from their smartphones. Apps such as Get Taxi, Taxi Magic, Uber and Hailo are all joining in on the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission’s year-long pilot program for e-hailing a licensed cab.
According to the fine print of the program, “The Pilot Program is solely for purposes of assisting the TLC in learning about the feasibility of E-Hail Apps and E-Payment and participation in the Pilot Program does not signal authorization to operate beyond the guidelines of the Pilot Program.” So, we have a year to figure out if this really works.
Taxi app UberTaxi recently launched in DC to allow users to order a car service right from their smartphones. That service fee is a $2 charge, and the company also tacks on a 20 percent tip on top of your fare. But the tradeoff, of course, is ensuring that you will be able to find a cab when you need it while avoiding the hassle of standing out on the corner in the cold or rain. Cab drivers in DC are reportedly loving the app, which is said to solve problems faced by both passengers and drivers. Drivers are making more money, passengers can ensure they have a ride when they need one and both are feeling safer about the taxi experience.
Image via The Verge
Below, you can listen to an interview with Ki Mae Heussner, GigaOm staff writer, and Manoush Zomorodi, New Tech City host, about the program.
Taxis aren’t the only transportation service in NYC that is adapting to the 21st century. The Big Apple’s subway stations recently started providing wireless service in its 105-year-old subway system as part of a $200 million plan to connect the subway to the outside world. Transit Wireless, the company in charge of building and designing the network, is working with many carriers to provide cell phone and data connectivity services to all 277 underground stations in New York by 2017. The subway system also sees some technology innovations on a daily basis. Google co-founder Sergey Brin (News - Alert), for example, was recently spotted wearing Google Glass on the NYC subway.
The phone booths are another outdated technology getting a revamping. In July 2012, NYC began turning its 12,360 phone booths into Wi-Fi hotspots. The wireless signal of the pay phone booths will span a 100- to 200-foot radius and the network will appear as "Free Wi-Fi" or "NYC Free Public Wi-Fi" on phones, laptops, tablets and other WiFi (News - Alert) devices. The network isn't password protected, but when you launch your browser, you will be required to agree to terms and conditions before surfing the Web. Users can visit any site on the Internet and there is no limit on usage.
In line with the e-hailing program, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, operator of Metro-North Railroad, is testing a mobile-ticketing app. The MTA is working with the U.S. branch of London-based Masabi Ltd., who developed the mobile-phone ticketing technology used by 13 transit agencies in the U.K. Masabi is also working with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to introduce a similar system this year. The e-tickets will show an image a conductor can validate with a barcode scanner. The initial pilot will include a time measurement study to compare electronic purchases with on-board transactions and inspection efforts. The MTA will also keep an eye on anti-fraud measures before deciding whether or not to expand this program to all riders.