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What Would You Change About the NYC Taxi Cab?
February 8, 2010 4:10 PM   Subscribe

"What Would You Change About the NYC Taxi Cab?" is one response to The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission's call for a new taxi cab design.

New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission:

Today's taxi fleet is made up of 16 different vehicles, supported by 9 manufacturers. None of the vehicles currently approved as taxis were designed by the original manufacturers as taxis; rather they have all been outfitted (“hacked up”) by third party upfitters, garages and meter shops to
conform to TLC’s taxicab specifications. But these current vehicles fall short of meeting the
needs of stakeholders: there is no one vehicle that is clean, accessible, and comfortable and
meets the needs of a New York City taxicab.

The goal of the RFP is to seek a highly-qualified manufacturer that has the knowledge
and practical experience necessary to bring the TLC’s and its stakeholders’ vision of the next
generation of taxicab to fruition, representing all the stated qualities below:
  • Meets highest safety standards
  • Superior passenger experience
  • Superior driver comfort and amenities
  • Appropriate purchase price and ongoing maintenance and repair costs
  • Smaller environmental footprint (lower emissions and improved fuel economy)
  • Smaller physical footprint (with more usable interior room)
  • Universal accessibility for all users
  • Iconic design that will identify the new taxi with New York City

PDF
posted by R. Mutt (52 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Get rid of Taxi TV.

Fix the meters so drivers can't add surcharges illegally outside of surcharge hours. Suspend hack licenses for a week for every meter violation.

Require drivers to place business cards with contact info and license info where a passenger can take one.

OUTLAW the little Ford hybrid SUVs, which cause knee damage to anyone over 5 ft 9 in or so.

Drivers lose their licenses -- hack and driving -- for getting caught talking on the cell phone a second time.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:15 PM on February 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


The best taxi redesign suggestion I've ever heard was to put the cab's ID number in gigantic, unmissable text on both sides and the hood, so you could read it from blocks away. For some reason, most taxi drivers were opposed to this idea.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:17 PM on February 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Please, just get rid of the TV.
posted by donovan at 4:18 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Some sort of built in baby + child seat system.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:19 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nothing is more frustrating to me than when the credit card machine simply WILL NOT WORK no matter how much begging and pleading you do. Then you have to be taken to an ATM while the cabbie waits for you. There. That's my pet peeve. That and the TV.
posted by amicamentis at 4:22 PM on February 8, 2010


Cabbie B.O. filter.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:25 PM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Now the TV has extra motion-sickness inducing intro video ughhhhhrrrrkkkk

Business cards would be brilliant.

The vast majority of drivers I've had have been okay to excellent. Always patient with little children in their cab....only had two really bad taxi experiences.
posted by kathrineg at 4:27 PM on February 8, 2010


I'll be unhappy until we get the taxi's from the fifth element.
posted by pwally at 4:42 PM on February 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Can I get Ed Koch to talk to me for the entire trip and not just tell me to buckle up?
posted by GuyZero at 4:43 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those boxy bullet points cunningly tricked me into thinking that MeFi had magically enabled some sort of awesome poll-taking mechanism, and I was momentarily overwhelmed with glee.

I AM NIGH INCONSOLABLE NOW KTHXBIE.

My only proposed changes to NYC taxis are doubtlessly rather illegal, such as my prototype traffic-dispersing laser or the beer vending machines for those late night rides home when the bodega just seems too difficult.
posted by elizardbits at 4:46 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Taller cab interiors so that I may wear my tophat inside.
posted by gc at 4:47 PM on February 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Remind me: just what exactly was wrong with the Checker Marathon?
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 4:49 PM on February 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Remind me: just what exactly was wrong with the Checker Marathon?

It was too awesome and the other cars all felt bad.
posted by The World Famous at 4:56 PM on February 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Start using the LTI TX4.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:56 PM on February 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


Meets highest safety standards
Superior passenger experience
Superior driver comfort and amenities
Appropriate purchase price and ongoing maintenance and repair costs
Smaller environmental footprint (lower emissions and improved fuel economy)
Smaller physical footprint (with more usable interior room)
Universal accessibility for all users
Iconic design that will identify the new taxi with New York City


No requirement for HYBRID propulsion system? This should be mandatory. In Stockholm (even with with our harsh climate) about 1/4 of the cabs are hybrid and the drivers I talk to seem to like them very much. They say they are reliable as hell and nice to drive in stop and go traffic.
posted by three blind mice at 5:01 PM on February 8, 2010


Who was it that said "Whenever I ride in a cab in New York, I feel like I should be hanging out the window and shooting at the car behind us"?
posted by 445supermag at 5:02 PM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think hybrid is covered with the 'smaller environmental footprint' and the Iconic design is sort of stupid and flys exactly in the face of that particular requirement.
posted by sfts2 at 5:07 PM on February 8, 2010


Ben Bailey and cash in each cab. It's stimulus and people learn a lot. It could go under the public education budget.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:10 PM on February 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Child seat option, bike rack/s, hybrid/electric mandatory, and kitted out and decorated by artists in a WPA-style program.
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:11 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Weren't all the cabs supposed to go hybrid by 2012? Did that mandate get cancelled?
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:11 PM on February 8, 2010


three blind mice, the hybrid drivetrain would help solve two of the criteria above:
Appropriate purchase price and ongoing maintenance and repair costs
Smaller environmental footprint (lower emissions and improved fuel economy)
Hybrid cars can regen-brake without wearing out pads & rotors, and sit in gridlock without idling. No need to mandate that particular powertrain. In fact, given how close to home taxis typically stay, and how much distance they cover, taxis will probably be the first economic candidates for full electric propulsion.
posted by anthill at 5:14 PM on February 8, 2010


I think hybrid is covered with the 'smaller environmental footprint'

Hybrid is a specific design constraint. Smaller environmental footprint could be anything.

the Iconic design is sort of stupid and flys exactly in the face of that particular requirement.

I always thought that NYCs dirty, suspensionless, smelly, expensive, beater cabs were appropriately iconic for NYC. The ride in from the airport prepares you for what to expect when you arrive.
posted by three blind mice at 5:15 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hybrid is a specific design constraint. Smaller environmental footprint could be anything.

Which is a good reason not to have a hybrid requirement. Other options for satisfying the requirement should also be acceptable (electric cars for example). The right thing is to have some mileage / emissions targets and then use whatever best meets those.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:22 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty far from a proponent of hybrid cars. But NYC taxis seem like just about the perfect implementation of that technology for the reasons stated by anthill. From a regulatory perspective, however, I think it is far better to have benchmark standards that have to be met, rather than requiring a specific current technology and essentially shutting out any future technological advances that are not described within a regulatory textual framework.

Aside from the environmental impact issue and the demand for a smaller physical footprint, long-wheelbase Lincoln Town Cars pretty much take care of everything else on their list, though.
posted by The World Famous at 5:25 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Get rid of the fucking TVs, have credit card machines that actually work. Aside from that, I've rarely had a bad trip in NYC taxi compared to hired cars or livery services.
posted by The Whelk at 5:31 PM on February 8, 2010



Ben Bailey and cash in each cab. It's stimulus and people learn a lot. It could go under the public education budget.


I know someone who was on that! Ironically he was taking the cab home from his lawyers where he was informed he was just left a very nice sum of money in a settlement. He's an academic and ended up winning something like 3k on the show (which, by the way, they just HAND YOU at the end, so he said walking home with 3k in cash and a huge check in his pants made him extra careful of his surroundings.)
posted by The Whelk at 5:36 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've only ever ridden in one NYC cab, and all I wanted whilst I was riding in it was an ejector seat.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:54 PM on February 8, 2010


You gotta stop hanging out with Dr. Evil Mr. Crash.
posted by The Whelk at 5:55 PM on February 8, 2010


The LTI TX4 mentioned above is a great taxi cab. I've ridden in the Charleston Black Cab's TXII models. They have super spacious club-seating and accessible ramps. The only drawback is that it is a straight diesel, not a diesel-electric hybrid. For large areas like Charleston it works great, but in the stop-n-go inner-city traffic of NYC it would be suboptimal.

Unfortunately they are no longer selling in the US:
As stated on this website on April 3rd 2009 the current economic environment has made it difficult to complete the work necessary to introduce a new version of the London Taxi into the U.S. market. Given these circumstances, our parent company, London Taxi International (LTI) has shut the operations of London Taxis North America, Inc as of August 1st 2009 [....]
posted by autopilot at 6:01 PM on February 8, 2010


I want the in-taxi TV to be a touchscreen hooked up to a map program. That way I can just touch the address I want to go to and watch my progress on the map. And never actually have to interact with another human being...
posted by Karmakaze at 6:13 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Require drivers to place business cards with contact info and license info where a passenger can take one.

This. I think most people would make it a quick habit to grab the cabby's business card. It would keep them on the level when it comes to "my credit card machine is broken," and it would help greatly when you realize you left your wallet on the seat.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about losing things in cabs, a BRIGHT LIGHT that switches on automatically when I'm paying for and leaving the cab. There's no reason I should have to literally feel around on the (black) seat for my (black) cellphone when it's (black) outside at 2am and I may or may not be (blacked).
posted by jckll at 6:28 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


They need to be more like a Johnny Cab!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:54 PM on February 8, 2010


Another vote for getting rid of those blasted televisions and requiring business cards.

However, all of my cab experiences in NYC have been quite pleasant (as opposed to the time the SuperShuttle driver attempted to kill us by turning left into the oncoming traffic lane during morning rush hour...). Also, a NY cab driver was responsible for this entertaining exchange:

DRIVER: You must be from California!
ME [startled]: You could tell from my accent?
DRIVER: Oh, no--you smiled at me when you got in the car.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:00 PM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Weren't all the cabs supposed to go hybrid by 2012? Did that mandate get cancelled?

They lost a lawsuit. PDF ruling. Fed court said that only the federal gov't can set fuel efficiency standards, and the NYC rule didn't say "must be hybrid", it said "must get 25 MPG or better" (moving up to 30 MPG after a year.)
posted by smackfu at 7:15 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want the in-taxi TV to be a touchscreen hooked up to a map program. That way I can just touch the address I want to go to and watch my progress on the map. And never actually have to interact with another human being...
Isn't that what it is? You have to switch from the default advert view, but it does have this, doesn't it?
posted by GeckoDundee at 7:17 PM on February 8, 2010


Safety standards?

I'd be much happier and feel safer if ..... there were a device that blocked the cell phone in the front compartment of the taxi. I think that 9 out of 10 of my rides involve the taxi cab driver speaking on the cell phone or answering the cell phone. Oh wait, better than that has been the cab drivers who are texting.
posted by Wolfster at 7:18 PM on February 8, 2010


Isn't that what it is? You have to switch from the default advert view, but it does have this, doesn't it?

It has a map with a passive GPS. I think he's talking about a GTA-style, get in the cab, touch a location on the map, go.
posted by jckll at 7:26 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


"In fact, given how close to home taxis typically stay, and how much distance they cover, taxis will probably be the first economic candidates for full electric propulsion."

Many taxi's are in nominal operation 24X7. They'd have to have very fast chargers available.

Reliability would be the real stumbling block hampering an off the shelf solution. What made the checker's great is they were designed specifically for taxi use and had ridiculously over built suspensions and drive components. Made great taxis but crappy general consumer cars (because of the added cost).
posted by Mitheral at 7:43 PM on February 8, 2010


-Fuck that weak TV shit.

-Bring back the Checker Cabs

-All cab drivers must sport a Travis Bickle mohawk.
posted by Skygazer at 7:50 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please, just get rid of the TV.
posted by donovan at 4:18 PM on February 8


I have not been in one of these cabs myself, but I don't suppose these TVs have a remote control sensor...
something that the TV-B-Gone might work on?
posted by blueberry at 9:43 PM on February 8, 2010


For the passenger, a taxi cab passenger cabin should be a very quiet place with direct light coming in from the roof but filtered from the side so you aren't distracted (freaked out) by all the shit around you. Not quite a sensory deprivation chamber, but something very peaceful. A reading lamp you could turn on if you like. A silent screen showing a You Are Here map that you also could turn off. No ads. No words displayed or played at all. Soundproof and bulletproof. Your pulse rate should drop when you get into a cab. If you need media, bring your own. At the end of the ride, your receipt should be a complete ride report printed for the passenger: start time and place, all streets on the route, end time and place, rates applied, driver name and ID number, company name and contact information, and a general ombudsman contact for dissatisfied customers.

For the driver -- well, the driver shouldn't exist. The cab should be automated. But if you can't quite have that yet, the driver should have to follow a route specified by the routing software, which should also determine all rates according to route and time of day. The software (and onboard hardware) should also track how the driver performs in terms of safety: sudden stops, erratic lane changes, speeding, running stops, etc, all could be tracked. Determine who the worst X percent are and deal with them, while sliding a nice bonus to the best X percent.
posted by pracowity at 11:12 PM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


cells... texting... that's nothing. I was in taxi where the driver was playing the drums with real drumsticks. He played on the steering wheel and used the meter as cymbal, driving the taxi up and down the hilly streets with his knees.

I've even heard of one driver who played the clarinet -- same deal: knees on the wheel.

Not everyone can say they risked their life to support the arts...
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:24 AM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have not been in one of these cabs myself, but I don't suppose these TVs have a remote control sensor...
something that the TV-B-Gone might work on?
posted by blueberry 2 ¾ hours ago [+]


That's a cool device, bit not necessary, the monitors have touch screens so you can turn it off. It only shows one news channel and a bunch of other crap, and I think also sometimes you can get a map with your location on it.
posted by Skygazer at 12:36 AM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are TELEVISIONS in NYC cabs now?

What I would change about NYC cabs is their failure to explode in a fireball, killing or third-degree burning, plastic-surgery-requiring, everyone in the intersection, if the television inside the cab hasn't already been successfully completely vandalized or destroyed.

What are the good links to cab TV vandalism tips?
posted by gum at 12:51 AM on February 9, 2010


GPS units for all drivers. We have GPS in the back seat, but a driver still can't look up an address and take me there.
posted by CharlesV42 at 3:49 AM on February 9, 2010


I always wonder who the hell it is these cabbies are spending all day talking to on their phones. I wonder if their friends are filled with dread when they see the name pop up. "oh, god, here goes three hours..."

(as for this problem, the London cab meets all these requirements easily, but it'd feel so wrong. Like a red phone box in Manhattan)
posted by bonaldi at 5:19 AM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always wonder who the hell it is these cabbies are spending all day talking to on their phones.

Other cabbies, natch.
posted by jckll at 6:20 AM on February 9, 2010


I have not been in one of these cabs myself, but I don't suppose these TVs have a remote control sensor...

Thankfully they have a mute button.
posted by smackfu at 6:46 AM on February 9, 2010


The email response from TV-B-Gone:
"Unfortunately they do not work on the TVs in the NY City cabs, I've tried it."

posted by blueberry at 10:44 AM on February 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


A pony.
posted by Splunge at 12:25 PM on February 9, 2010


I'd like to be able to pre-swipe my credit card before arriving at my destination, and be able to simply approve the charge on arrival.

I'd also like to see shift changes managed a little differently. It's a problem when literally every single taxi, all at once, is off duty.
posted by effugas at 8:40 PM on February 9, 2010


(as for this problem, the London cab meets all these requirements easily, but it'd feel so wrong. Like a red phone box in Manhattan)

Red phone boxes in Manhattan would be awesome:

Trans-Atlantic Taxi Swap.
posted by Skygazer at 8:36 PM on February 10, 2010


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