New York City Plans Smarter Cabs

New York City looks to enable cab fare payment via smartphones and add other high-tech gear.

by / March 19, 2012

Settling cab fares in New York City is about to get simpler. The City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) is now accepting proposals from software developers for a new app that lets passengers pay fares using their smartphone. The TLC envisions payment receipts being transmitted via email on this new system.

In addition to the payment capability, respondents are also encouraged to consider a points system with rewards for frequent riders, ridesharing possibilities and other enhanced customer service features.

 The app will be created at the developer’s expense, with potential for profit through credit card processing fees and advertising.

Rather than a standalone app, developers are asked to consider integration with in-taxi technology systems, which offer passenger monitors, credit card processors and a driver monitor that links to the in-vehicle fare calculator.

Similar smartphone functionality is already in use or is being planned for other U.S. cities. In Alexandria, Va., passengers can book a cab and pay their fare using an app called Taxi Magic. According to Yellow Cab Cooperative, cab fare payment via smartphone is planned in San Francisco as well.

The complete RFP package for the New York City app opportunity is available at

In-Taxi System Options Being Reviewed

Earlier this month, the TLC invited tech companies to submit cost-effective alternatives for current in-taxi technology systems. The pilot program was fueled by a proposal from Square Inc. for a unique mobile technology setup for taxis that eases credit card processing, simplifying the process for passengers and drivers alike.

 The pilot program will compare the feasibility of using an app-equipped iPad for the passenger, along with an iPhone for the driver in lieu of the current in-taxi system that features passenger and driver information monitors.

Depending on the proposals it receives, the commission may consider the in-taxi technology system of one additional vendor, in addition to Square’s offering.