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NYC taxi cabs to test GPS-based fare meters and mobile technology to fight Uber and Lyft

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is piloting a program that will install GPS-based fare meters in 1,000 of its yellow taxi cabs. The pilot, passed by the commission on Thursday, will also replace the irritating “Taxi TVs” with new payment systems.

Currently, New York City’s 13,500 taxi cabs rely on a set of devices that track the number of times a wheel turns and idle times. The GPS-based meters will replace the familiar dashboard-mounted meters with red digits in the cabs included in the pilot.

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The pilot, which will last up to a year and involve 1,000 cabs instead of the originally proposed 4,000 cabs, could replace the various pieces of equipment in cabs today (e.g., the Taxi TV, credit card reader, vehicle location system, taximeter) with just a single tablet or smartphone to collect fare at the end of trips.

“Ultimately it is to create a more nimble system,” said Meera Joshi, chairwoman of the commission.

The pilot is also a not-so-subtle sign that the city’s taxis are being forced to reconsider its ways and respond to industry-disrupting ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, along with a crop of smaller competitors.

The commission will select up to four companies to take part in the pilot by installing new payment technology in up to 250 taxi cabs each, according to The New York Times.

The Taxi TV has been a notorious annoyance for riders and drivers since the devices, which play ads on 12-hour loops, began appearing in taxi cabs in 2007. In 2011, a survey found that the Taxi TV was the second worst part of the ride, after only the fare.

The commission will use test runs in the city to ensure that cabs with the traditional meter and the new GPS-based meter driving the same routes calculate the same fares.