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NYC cabbies not sold on touch-screens

Touch-screen monitors in taxi cabs allow passengers to pay by credit card, find ads and reviews for neighbourhood bars and restaurants, view news stories and check an electronic map of their cab's progress. Still, not all taxi owners are convinced. The monitors are now in 200 city cabs as an experiment, but a plan to put them in all 13,000 cabs has angered many drivers. They see the technology as an expensive imposition that would cost them money and allow taxi owners and officials to check up on them.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is scheduled Thursday to consider an October 1 deadline for all of the city's cabs to start installing the systems. "This project is nothing short of revolutionary and evolutionary for the taxi industry," said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matthew W. Daus. Officials say the credit-card option could translate to bigger tips and more fares from riders short on cash. The global positioning system in the technology will also automate required record-keeping and give drivers crucial information about traffic or lost items. The commission has approved tests of four systems and may endorse them for sale within days. Taxi owners would choose from the four systems, at a maximum three-year cost of $7,200 for equipment and various fees. Vendors say advertising can offset at least some of owners' costs.

Objecting drivers have raised concerns about the costs of the hardware, credit-card fees and potential working time lost if the systems need repair. Some worry that the global-positioning system will be used to track their movements, although the taxi commission says it will record only the pickup and drop-off points and fare, which drivers already are required to log. The alliance held a rally in March to protest the new systems and is exploring legal and political avenues for trying to block the plan.

News source: CNN

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