Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Taxi Tech

A brief history of technology in New York cabs.

ShareThis

1897
Taxis using an electric-propulsion engine introduced in New York by the Electric Vehicle Company. Similar systems existed in Paris and London.
FAILURE: The electric engine was eclipsed by internal combustion in 1912.

1985
Electronic meters installed.
SUCCESS: The venerable old mechanical meter was driven by gears and an internal clock. Electronic meters are more accurate and easily reprogrammed (with new fares, for example).

1991
American Express pilot credit-card-payment program launches.
PARTIAL SUCCESS: Though glitchy, this pilot was gee-whiz impressive. But it couldn’t handle real-time transactions, which made fraud a possibility.

1997
Celebrity voices remind riders to wear seat belts.
FAILURE: The voices drove riders and cabbies (who heard them 80 times a day) nuts, and failed to improve seat-belt usage. Removed in 2003.

1999
Digital billboards installed on cab roofs show sports scores and ads that change according to the cab’s location.
SUCCESS: Billboards were introduced on about 100 cabs. About 250 can now be seen prowling the streets with news of the latest Knicks collapse.

2000
Yahoo! puts wireless Palm devices in ten taxis, so passengers can check their e-mail messages en route.
PARTIAL SUCCESS: Raised money for Easter Seals, but program was not designed for the long term, and the PDAs didn’t survive the heavy users.

Credit-card-payment systems launched in 150 cabs by Taxitronic.
SUCCESS: Now available in about 650 cabs, most of which can be found traveling to and from the airports.

2002
TaxiVu and other taxi-TV companies test out ad-supported programming in cabs.
FAILURE: Passengers didn’t like intrusive and dopey advertorials. Experiment ended in the summer of 2003.


Related:

Advertising
Current Issue
Subscribe to New York
Subscribe

Give a Gift

Advertising