5 New Taxi Service Improvements from Around the World

by  Alex Schechter | Oct 24, 2013
Taxis in NYC
Taxis in NYC / deberarr/iStock

Forget about the subway – with all the new innovations showing up in taxis lately, we're sticking with getting around cities the old-fashioned, four-wheel way. And we're not talking about things like e-hailing taxi apps, which we covered already in a post last month. No, this time we're looking at new ways to pay fares, cabs with free Wifi, and eco-friendly electric taxis. Find out which cities are ahead of the pack, below!

As anyone who's traveled to Dubai knows, it's not the most pedestrian-friendly place. Sure, you can stroll up and down designated outdoor shopping areas like Souk Madinat Jumeirah, or meander around Safa Park, but if you're trying to get between different neighborhoods, Dubai's car-centric infrastructure (not to mention the heat in the summer) makes walking difficult. As a result, cabs are a quick, easy, and relatively cheap way of getting around. And with the recent introduction of free Wifi in all cabs, you can even check email, look up local restaurants, or update social media during the 5-15 minutes you'll spend on the road. By the end of the year, 3,500 cabs will be outfitted with the new service, as well as allowing passengers to pay by credit card or smartphone, and use touchscreen information panels inside the cab.

If you're an American Express card holder, you'll have an extra option when it comes to paying for your cab ride next time you're in the Big Apple. Whether you're short on cash, have an abundance of AmEx rewards points, or just feel like trying out something new, VeriFone (the little screens in the backseats of cabs) now allows AmEx loyalty club members to use their rewards points when paying a fare. To test out the new option, simply swipe your card, select "credit," and if you have available points, the screen will ask you if you want to use them. Tips are also collected in points, though drivers get their allocated
share in cash.

Las Vegas
Nobody really enjoys riding cabs in Vegas, but when you step out of McCarran Airport and need to get to your hotel, they sort of become a necessary evil. Whether it's the long lines or the drivers' tendency
to overcharge on intentionally circuitous routes through the city, complaints run rampant about the Vegas taxi experience. Going against the tide is one shrewd driver, known as "@HackingVegas," who set up a Twitter account allowing incoming tourists to tweet their flight number and arrival time – when you show up, he'll be there waiting for you, meaning you get a personal welcome to Sin City, and the welcome opportunity to jump the line.

Feeling guilty over the carbon footprint left by your flight to Spain? Here's a way to offset your impact: last month, Barcelona announced it would become the first city in the world to start using the Nissan e-NV200 in its fleet of city taxis. The car, known as the LEAF, is a zero-emission vehicle whose power comes from a lithium-ion battery that can be charged to almost full capacity in 30 minutes. What's more, production of the cars, which will begin in mid-2014, will take place in Barcelona itself, providing a boost to the local economy and the chance for tourists to ride around in a 'locally-made' vehicle.

Australian taxi drivers are all clamoring for a chance to get behind the wheel of a new fleet of London Taxi Company-produced cabs appearing in Perth this fall. That's right, the iconic London cab is set to make its Australian debut, though not in the traditional shade of black. White will be the color of choice for the newer Australian versions, which will be manufactured in the UK and exported Down Under. Right now, the white cabs will be tested during a trial period, though judging from all the hype their arrival has generated so far, it's a pretty safe bet they'll be here to stay.

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