Squinting to see whether a taxicab’s “off-duty” lights are on might one day be a thing of the past.

Officials at the Taxi and Limousine Commission are considering changing the lights on top of taxicabs, taking away both the numbers and the “off-duty” sign. They would be replaced with something much simpler: If one light is on, the cab’s free. If it's dark, the cab’s been taken.

The new cabs would be modeled after taxis in London, which use the single-light system.

Right now, a yellow cab is available if the middle part of the light, with the cab’s numbers, is lit up.

But it can be hard to decipher for New Yorkers — much less out-of-towners — whether the “off-duty” lights on the sides are also lit.

 

Just don’t hold your breath for simpler taxis anytime soon: These new lights might not be a reality for at least another two years. TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said they would likely be incorporated into the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” a Nissan NV200, expected to hit streets in November 2013.

What do you think?

In the meantime, the TLC is gathering feedback from the cabbie world, and from the people who use them. “Of course, we’re also inviting input from the riding public,” Fromberg said. New Yorkers are encouraged to visit the TLC’s Facebook page to take a survey and suggest how the city's most iconic vehicle could be improved.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.



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