Can’t stand Taxi TV? Even New York’s taxi commissioner feels your pain.
In a candid assessment of the much-maligned back-seat screens, David S. Yassky, chairman of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, said Thursday that he wanted to improve the current batch of yellow cab programming, which riders have routinely criticized.
“I do sympathize with passengers who don’t like the content on the Taxi TV screens right now,” Mr. Yassky said in an interview. “We are not going to be a government censor here, but we want to offer more options to passengers in taxis.”
A survey of 22,000 taxi riders, which the city released on Thursday, revealed that 31 percent of passengers considered the squawking screens to be the worst element of a yellow cab ride. Only the high cost of a fare came in for more criticism.
Asked at a news conference about the widespread contempt for the screens, Mr. Yassky said, “I was not surprised, to tell you the truth.”
“We are working with the two companies that operate those devices to try and get some better content,” he continued, “and some content that will be more compelling to passengers.”
Currently, Taxi TV includes a variety of news, weather and cultural reports produced by two local stations, WABC and WNBC. The city is planning to unveil a second channel of programming that will potentially include content produced by the media arm of the Bloomberg administration, including shopping and cooking shows.
Michael Woloz, a spokesman for Creative Mobile Technologies, one of the two vendors that operate the screens, said he believed more passengers appreciated Taxi TV than the survey suggested.
“What part of Taxi TV does 31 percent find annoying? That’s a huge universe,” Mr. Woloz said, noting that the phrase “Taxi TV,” used in the survey question, encompassed commercials and boilerplate taxi information, as well as programming.
Mr. Woloz said he “wouldn’t read a whole lot” into the survey data.
The survey, conducted late last year, also found that nearly 60 percent of respondents described the ability to pay with a credit card machine as their favorite part of taking a taxi. Asked to choose the top reasons they take a taxi, 63 percent of respondents selected the option: “It’s late/I’m tired,” followed closely, at 55 percent, by “I’m in a hurry.”
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM