Taxi TV is ok, if you don’t mind a living hell

Last night, I came in contact with Taxi TV for the first time, New York’s effort to “modernize” its taxicabs. By “modernize,” I mean allow use of credit cards in cabs by bombarding riders with repetitive commercials to pay for the upgrade. Man, it sucks out loud. During a 15-minute trip, I saw one commercial for a Panasonic laptop a half dozen times and another for some cut-rate brokerage called several more. The menu has “channels” that don’t actually work: Switching from NBC news highlights to “sports” yields yet another Panasonic ad, followed by more of the same news clips. Ads can’t be muted. After my experience, I think I’ll go back to looking out the window. Drivers hate the system because of the GPS tracking, but they also have to put up with the nonstop racket. My driver told me he despises Panasonic after being subjected to the ads hundreds of times a day. He predicts “only tourists” will use Taxi TV after regular riders try it once. “It’s a scam,” he said. “The ad companies and the city are the only ones getting the cheese.”

—Posted by Brian Morrissey