This morning, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray unveiled the first D.C. taxicab to be outfitted with a new smart meter that will accept credit card payment, offer the rider a loop of NBC content on a small (and thankfully mutable) TV screen and include GPS tracking while the cab is in service.
Gray called the new smart meters — provided by VeriFone as part of a five-year, $35 million deal with D.C. — a “major upgrade” to the city’s 6,500-cab fleet, which is often criticized for remaining behind its counterparts in other U.S. cities. The installation of the meters will start slowly, but city officials hope to have them in every cab by November.
The smart meter’s GPS device will be enabled when a passenger is in the cab.
The air of celebration over the meters was dampened somewhat by the remaining uncertainties as to who will pay for the installation of the meters and whether or not cab drivers actually want them, though. A plan by Gray to have D.C. pay for the installation — costing $1.3 million — is on hold, courtesy of a disapproval resolution filed by Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) last week.
Yesterday Barry defended his move, saying that he simply wanted to wait for a decision by the D.C. Contract Appeals Board over whether the city properly awarded the contract for the meters. (Two VeriFone competitors say it didn’t.)
[Continue reading Martin Austermuhle’s post at DCist.com.]