The “off-duty” lights on top of taxis — which have long mystified riders — are heading for the end of the line.
Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky said Tuesday medallion owners will be directed this fall to start removing the signs and adopting a simpler way of indicating whether a cab is available.
Under the current scheme, the cab-top signs have four different potential meanings depending on whether either or both the off-duty lights and the medallion number light are illuminated.
“It’s far too confusing for the average rider,” Yassky told the Daily News.
Under the new system, the cab-top signs will have only two potential meanings: available if the medallion number is lit, or unavailable if it’s dark.
Yassky floated the idea of simplifying the signs in October and began soliciting feedback from passengers. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of improving the system, he said.
Medallion owners will have to pay the cost of the change, which the TLC said would be minimal.
Cab riders Tuesday night said they’d welcome the switch.
“I do pretty well with cabs but I think that’s wonderful,” said Mal Barasch, a retired lawyer from Manhattan. “It’s pretty confusing.”
Alyssa Gomez, 22, an actress from the Bronx, said she was unaware of the current system’s complexities. She’ll just do what she always has done to get a ride, she said.
“I’ll just wave my hand until one stops,” she said.
Michael Smith, 24, a banker, also didn’t know how to crack the current code.
“I guess if it’s on, that means it’s on, that means they’re stopping,” he said.
For those like Gomez and Smith, who don’t know what the current system means, here’s a primer:
n Off-duty sign on/medallion number off: Off duty.
n Off-duty sign off/medallion number on: Available.
n Off-duty sign on/medallion number on: Available for trips in the direction of the garage cabbie is heading.
n Off-duty sign off/medallion number off: Cab is occupied and not available.