New Yorkers know they can dial 311 for help with most municipal problems, but what do you about a bad taxi ride?
Randy Meech has created a site called TaxiHack that lets unhappy passengers post their cab comments, via email or tweet, in real time. A director of engineering at Patch, an AOL-owned local news site, Mr. Meech said that he was interested in creating a dialogue about taxi rides in the vein of Twitter.
No more clowning around, cabbies.
He built TaxiHack over three weekends, just in time to submit it for entry in New York’s BigApps Competition, a contest sponsored by the city’s economic development corporation and department of information technology.
Contestants were asked to create city-minded applications that tap into public data. So far, New York has received 85 apps submissions and is holding public voting until Jan. 7. Judges such as Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis, Gilt Groupe chairman Kevin Ryan and DFJ Ventures co-founder Daniel Schultz will choose the winners.
Mr. Meech said he created TaxiHack based on an interest in that particular data set rather than any bad cab experiences, but the posts have veered toward the negative.
One user, for example, emailed about Taxi 4N82: “Around 34 st in Manhattan, indicating available for service but, LOCKED DOORS, then refused service for 6 blocks to a movie theater b/c he was ‘heading other direction.’ Said I’d report him (to taxi hack!) and he said ‘do you like me, baby?’ repeatedly. AVOID.”
Twitter user Kelsey Rahn
tweeted: “Suffered through the stank in #5M32 all the way back to Brooklyn.”
Some passengers, however, were a little more complimentary, and reported good behavior rather than bad. “3k28 was super nice and over apologetic after realizing our ‘package’ was a well-wrapped baby,” tweeted informor.
Users can comment about specific drivers or taxi companies. Good Samaritans can email or tweet about lost and found items, such as one passenger who wrote: “2B61 – pick up on 5th ave… Found black leather gloves w/fur – returned to driver!”
So far, TaxiHack has received 17 votes in the NYC BigApps Competition, placing it behind more popular outfits such as Big Apple Ed, a site that helps residents find the rights schools for their children and which received 37 votes; and Ride The City, an app that aims to help bicyclists find safe routes, with 55 votes.
Still, Mr. Meech, a former Google employee, liked the idea of building a site from scratch, as well as participating in a contest encouraging open city and government data. “I hope that taxi drivers don’t take it as a slam against them, because it’s a hard job,” he said.