Deputy Director of Taxi Services Christiane Hayashi had an epiphany during last week's Town Hall Meetings on Electronic Waybills. Since the major cab companies are already computerized and collecting data on every ride, why have waybills at all?
The real question for Hayashi is, "What information do I need?"
The MTA needs data to:
- Qualify medallion applicants.
- Revoke medallions from medallion holders who are not disabled and not driving.
- Investigate criminal complaints.
- Identify key industry statistics.
And what stats do they need?
- Times of pick ups and drop offs to help identify busy times and slow times - including days of the week.
- The locations of pick ups and drop offs - to give the MTA the ability to plan taxi stands and white zones for drop offs. Or, to eliminate taxi stands that aren't needed.
- Paid vs unpaid miles - in the aggregate - broken down by times and days of the week.
- Number of passengers - how many people are riding in taxis.
The goals for obtaining this information are to improve driver income and service to the public by increasing the percentage of paid miles and increasing the number of taxi rides.
What the MTA doesn't need is a lot information on individual drivers.
In short, you probably won't have to fill out daily trip sheets because companies are already generating them. Medallion holders, people on the list, and drivers who want will be able to get waybills for their own records but drivers won't have to keep records unless they want to.
The MTA won't have to keep much information on file because it's being kept by the companies. When the MTA does need to know something for one of the above reasons, they can simply get it on a need-to-know basis from the companies.
Director Hayashi has already stated that the MTA has refused to open up its files for Homeland Security.
As it happened, I had some high-level security experts in my taxi over the weekend (they were discussing attempts to hack U.S. Government secrets concerning Pakistan) so I picked their brains. They said:
- Whether or not information can be hacked depends upon how the security is set up.
- Keeping info in different locations makes it more secure.
- Credit cards are usually insured against theft.
There was also a point that they didn't state but hinted at ... namely that thieves generally don't steal from the poor. Grifting my identity, for instance, wouldn't get them much and, as cab drivers go, I'm filthy rich.