Reuters/Lucas Jackson

A pilot program will remove the squawking screens from 1,000 cabs.

New Yorkers will tell you: One of the most aggravating things in taxis are those TV screens in the backseat, blaring the same ads over and over again, or relentlessly asking you the same trivia question. (For the umpteenth time, I don’t care which mayor decided that the city’s cabs should be painted yellow—but, for the record, it’s John Lindsay.)

A 2011 survey of 22,000 taxi riders found that the screens were among the top passenger complaints, second only to high fare costs. So people rejoiced when the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission board unanimously voted on Thursday to remove the TV screens from a thousand taxi cabs in a new yearlong pilot program.

The TVs were originally introduced between 2006 and 2008 as a way to update passengers with news and public announcements, double as a payment system, and to ease the boredom of a long taxi ride. But many riders say they immediately reach for the off or mute buttons, which are often broken.

In the screens’ place will be new, less obtrusive devices that will function largely as payment portals, relying on a GPS-based meter to enable customers to pay via a smartphone or tablet. Four companies will test out new technology in the pilot program. The end goal is phase out the TVs in all of NYC’s 13,500 cabs.

But there’s at least one group who isn’t thrilled about their removal: people with visual impairments, who often rely on the TVs for spoken instructions. Speaking to the local news, Audrey Schading, a woman who is blind, said the TVs are her way of knowing how much the fare is. Complaints from visually-impaired riders convinced the TLC to scale back the pilot program from 4,000 to 1,000 cabs.

Some New Yorkers feel that removing the screens is an extreme solution—and others lament that they won’t get to master their trivia skills, or make a cameo on the endless loop:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Amazon HQ2

    Without Amazon HQ2, What Happens to Housing in Queens?

    The arrival of the tech company’s new headquarters was set to shake up the borough’s real estate market, driving up rents and spurring displacement. Now what?

  2. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  3. A photo of a new car dealership
    Transportation

    Subprime Auto Loans Are Turning Car Ownership Into a Trap

    A record 7 million Americans are three months late on their car payments, revealing what could be cracks in the U.S. economy.

  4. Life

    The Singles Bar That Shook Up 1970s Toronto

    After the fern bar craze had swept the U.S., the Coal Bin arrived in the growing, but still-conservative Canadian city.

  5. Transportation

    With Trains Like Schwebebahn, No Wonder Germans Love Public Transit

    Infrastructure like this makes it clear why Germany continues to produce enthusiasm for public transit, generation after generation.