Creative Mobile Technologies, one of two companies that outfits the city's yellow cabs with credit card readers, unveiled groundbreaking new technology today that will make it much easier for blind or visually impaired taxi riders to pay — and who was one of the first to use it?
Former New York Gov. David Paterson, who is blind.
"This is the first time I'll be able to use a credit card by myself in a taxi cab, and I was the Governor of New York!" joked Paterson today.
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The software allows passengers to hear the fare changing in regular intervals during the taxi ride. A prerecorded voice will also read aloud all aspects of the credit card or cash payment once the taxi reaches its destination, including fare verification and how much to tip. Images will also be displayed on the taxi TV screens to help the passengers.
The audible touch screen system can be activated by a special card or by simply asking the driver.
Right now, only a portion of the city's cabs will get the software. The software will be installed into about 1,250 cabs in the next two weeks. There are 13,237 cabs total in the city's fleet.
How do you know you're in a cab with the technology? It will be audibly announced on taxi TV when riders enter the cab.
Before the new devices, blind taxi passengers were forced to rely on cab drivers to swipe their card and enter the correct amount, including tip. Not only is this a violation of current TLC rules, but also it exposes blind passengers to the risk of being ripped off, said Councilman James Vacca, chair of the Council's Transportation Committee, and whose father was blind.
Vacca introduced a bill that will require all city cabs to have a version of this software installed.