Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cabbie and GPS navigators

In the good old days, cabbies were renowned for their ability to get anyone anywhere faster than any other motor vehicle (and perhaps some small aircraft).

Today, however, every cabbie seems to have a GPS navigation device (often Garmins). Beyond that, many still even ask for directions. Two weeks in a row, Philadelphia cab drivers have been unable to get from the Airport to the suburbs, and even find themselves asking for directors once they get near their destination, unable to trust their Garmins while unable to get to their destination.

A colleague of mine even had a New York cabbie who couldn't get from the east side to La Guardia airport. He turned on his Garmin and subsequently began making following its advice to make seemingly random turns that got him even more lost.

The art and skill of cab drivers used to be instantly knowing the fastest route to your destination and being able to lightning-quick in game changes whenever needed. Today's cabbies seem to be one step up from a guy with a rent-a-car and Garmin.

1 comment:

Alex said...

It seems as though we have let technology elbow out good old-fashioned know-how.

In London, at least, it appears that genuine human knowledge of the lay of the land is still valued. There, licensed drivers of Hackney carriages (or "Black cabs") must demonstrate an extreme level of skill (including skill in navigation) by passing a demanding test known as "The Knowledge"

Maybe New York and other American cities should look to this model. Why not allow different "brands" of regulated taxicabs, each with their own fare schedules, to serve the city?