TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: NYC Taxis Prepare to go Wireless, With a Back-Seat Upgrade

NYC Taxis Prepare to go Wireless, With a Back-Seat Upgrade

Monty Solomon (
Sun, 13 Nov 2005 16:42:44 -0500

By Lisa Kassenaar, Bloomberg News

NEW YORK -- For those who hate battling for a taxi on a crowded New
York corner and then fumbling for the fare, relief may be just around
the corner.

The city's 12,766 yellow cabs are scheduled to get wireless
connections next year that will track drivers and help alert them to
waiting customers. Riders will be able to pay by credit card, to check
flight data, or to buy movie tickets. The New York City Taxi and
Limousine Commission, after gathering ideas from 70 companies, such as
Bank of America Corp. and Sprint Nextel Corp., may announce this month
the companies selected to add the services.

"This will bring a dinosaur industry into the 21st century," said
Michael Levine, owner of Ronart Leasing Corp., a taxi company based
in Queens that has 350 cars, and that Levine's grandfather started in
1937. "It's about time something happened."

Yellow cabs, the only taxis in the biggest US city allowed to pick up
people who flag them down, carry 238 million passengers a year and
bring in about $1.5 billion. In Manhattan, where people in three of
four households do not own a car, cabs carry babies home from
hospitals, move furniture, and shuffle visitors between appointments.

The link from taxis to cellular networks and satellites would follow
last year's 26 percent fare increase, the city's first in eight years,
to increase the average driver's pay to more than $12 an hour.

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