NYC Taxi Drivers Protest Video Installations--Again

The Taxi Workers Alliance--a group representing almost 9,000 New York City taxi drivers--is planning a second strike on Oct. 22, they announced Wednesday. They are protesting the city-mandated installation of video displays with a GPS component in their vehicles. The news follows the refusal by a federal judge on Monday to block the upgrades.

The strike is set to begin at 5 a.m., and will also include a protest in front of the offices of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The Alliance, which claims one-fifth of the city's 44,000 cabbies as members, was responsible for a two-day strike in September to protest the upcoming equipment installations. Among other complaints, the striking cabbies allege the GPS systems would allow the TLC to track their movements, thus revealing so-called "trade secrets"--the special routes taken by individual cabbies looking for fares. The TLC has repeatedly denied the accusation.

The GPS system allows the video screens to serve geographically targeted advertising--promoting, for example, businesses in neighborhoods close to the route or final destination.



Several media companies have already wrangled contracts to supply content and advertising to the video screens. Clear Channel Taxi Media has partnered with NBC to create NY10, a channel playing news, weather, entertainment programming, PSAs and advertising. New York's WABC has partnered with VeriFone to produce Taxi TV, featuring content from WABC's Eyewitness News, AccuWeather and ESPN, as well as restaurant, nightlife, retail and hotel listings and ratings from the Zagat survey.

The GPS systems are part of a package of equipment including video displays and credit-card payment mechanisms. The video displays allow passengers to follow the route of the taxi on a map, and can also deliver news, entertainment and advertising during the ride.

Cabbies are responsible for having the equipment installed by the time of their annual TLC inspections, which are staggered over a four-month period that began Oct. 1. (A previous article in MediaDailyNews mistakenly identified Oct. 1 as the final deadline for all installations.)

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