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. a photo of a tiny house in Oregon
    Design

    How Amazon Could Transform the Tiny House Movement

    Could the e-commerce giant help turn small-home living from a niche fad into a national housing solution?

  2. A portrait of Jay-Z.
    Equity

    The Roots of Jay-Z’s ‘Black Capitalism’

    Now partnering with the NFL, Jay-Z centers wealth-building in his activism, as many African Americans have before him—but without much success.

  3. Environment

    It's Time to Ditch Paper Straws, Too

    They’re a single-use, disposable consumer item—a greener option, but not a green one.

  4. a photo of a school bus in traffic
    Transportation

    Boston Saved $5 Million by Routing School Buses with an Algorithm

    With 25,000 students and the nation’s highest transportation costs, the Boston Public School District needed a better way to get kids to class.

  5. A photo of a Dayton police office's gun holster
    Equity

    State Preemption of Local Legislation Is Getting Worse

    A new report shows that state legislatures have been expanding their reach in preempting cities from localized regulation on issues like gun control.

×