Cabs of the Future Are Kind Of Nifty

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Photo: Lillien Nathan

So we've actually been a little troubled by this whole electronic-doohickey-thingy they're planning to install in cabs, the one that the cabbies group is threatening to strike over. We're not sure we like the idea of a GPS system tracking us, either, and there's nothing more obnoxious than a cheery video playing in the back of a taxi (didn't they try that a few years ago? To universal disdain?). Either way, it'll really be a bitch if the cabbies go on strike. Then yesterday we hopped in a cab and discovered one of the gizmos already installed. (Apparently there are already something like 700 in use, the TLC told us, and more are going in every day. Which would seem to us to sort of moot a September strike, but what do we know?) And we were pleasantly surprised to discover the things are actually pretty cool.

There's an interactive map that shows where you are, and a weather forecast and an ESPN feed and news broadcast from Channel 7, which is perhaps the one part we could really do without. (Other vendors have a deal with NBC, the TLC said.) But the best part is that the system accepts credit and debit cards — and will be in every cab by the end of January. You know that late-night ride home, when you realize you only have seven bucks in your wallet, and when the meter hits $6 you tell the cabbie, "Uh, actually, I think I want to walk from here"? Yeah, we won't miss that.

Related: Technology Has NYC Cabbies Turning Up Strike Talk Volume [AP via Newsday]