The Taxi and Limousine Commission voted Thursday to move ahead with removing television screens from some yellow cabs, but in response to some complaints, the pilot program will be much more limited than first planned. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
Audrey Schading is one New Yorker who doesn't want all those televisions removed from yellow cabs.
"That's absurd, and it's disrespectful, and it's not thinking. People are not thinking of what's already been done," she said.
The Manhattan woman is blind, and the TVs let her know how much her cab trips cost.
"It's like, 'Huh.' Why take away something that, that just, it's a no-brainer?" Schading said.
But the often-broken sound buttons and the repetitive programming loop on the televisions have made many drivers and passengers loopy. The televisions, in fact, are the top source of complaints to the the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
So the TLC on Thursday approved a pilot program allowing four companies to replace the TVs with less annoying technology that will enable passengers to pay their fares without all that noisy programming.
After complaints by the visually impaired, though, the TLC limited the pilot to 1,000 cabs instead of 4,000 as first planned. There are 13,500 yellow cabs in the city.
"The issue of them reducing the initial scope of the pilot is an important one, and I think that's an indication that they hear our concerns," said Lester Marks of the Lighthouse Guild.
"We want to, and have partners in, exploring what are those better ways, either through different audio prompts or things without screens, because quite frankly, the audio is really the vital component there and how best that can be utilized," said Meera Joshi, chairwoman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Instead of taxi televisions, cabs participating in the pilot study might be outfitted with special smartphones or tablets with credit card readers to collect the fare.
The commissioner says this would be a slow, deliberative study with tests and benchmarks. But now, there's a new concern from cabbies. They say the TV recently starting advertising their e-hail applications to better compete with Uber, and they don't want the city to turn that off.