News, Chatter, and Notes of Interest: Information for the transportation industries.
If your experience can help others, please e-mail us at fred@taxicabelectronics.com with your information so we can include it here.

October 3, 2013: Update on Centrodyne TaxiMeters: Centrodyne Corp. in Montreal Canada has removed the Silent 610 taximeter from production. The meter has been replaced by their newer S700 meter in the line. The S700 is only slightly more expensive than the 610 was, and has numerous new innovative features. There are still a few 610's left at this date but the supply is dwindling quickly. The Printing variety, the Silent 620, will be around for about another year according to the manufacturer. The harness (mount and cable kit) has been redesigned, but the same four wires are used. External circuitry is the same, so replacing a damaged 610 in an existing cab is simple. See instructions for that change free on this website - use this link: "replace meter type". We suggest the S700 replacement if you wish to remain "all Centrodyne" in your fleet. Otherwise, the Pulsar 2030 meter (a competitive brand) is available at the old price, and it comes with a free pulse divider and toplight control relay in the box. Good deal! -fhs


June 13, 2011: Update on Camera Systems and DVR's for Taxicabs: The industry is evolving like all technology today. We can now offer a reasonably priced one unit camera DVR which is self contained - inside the camera a host of emergency automatic features for recording what happened, and the Digital Video Recording system which uses an SD card of high density. This means long recording times, easy playback through your computer, and excellent quality images. It also means you can mount it with double-stick tape and wire it in about fifteen minutes - all you need is power! Our supply line is being established as we speak, and at the moment the lead time is over six weeks. This will change shortly, but you can be (excuse the expression) "the first on your block" to have it in your cab. The price will amaze you too. If you are looking for a multi-camera system, with perhaps backup camera, side camera for people approaching on a flag, and inside and front cameras too, we have that too. Again, at an amazing price and offered as a complete package with one, two or four cameras. for BOTH these systems, click here.! -fhs


June 10 2011: Update on Security Screens: We have discontinued sale of security screens because it has become a nightmare for our clients and us as well: There was a time when all cabs (whole bunches anyway) were Checkers. They closed. Then there were Chevrolet Caprices. They stopped making them. Then it was Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis. They are being terminated. As you know, each and every car van truck SUV is different inside. Trying to make screens in New York for a Toyota or a Buick in Texas became scary! And then there was the freight which has become a fright! So we have stopped trying to do that - couldn't please myself much less our clients. Here is the best advice. Find a local installer if you are in a major city. The same folks that build taxi packages and outfit them with meters etc. will know about screens in your area. If you are not where such a thing exists, we suggest a local manufacturer of wrought iron, a wire-fence dealer or a blacksmith if you are lucky enough to have one. They can measure, create, and install the screen you want the way you want it. We might be able to put you in touch with the New York City folks who do it there, and know what they are doing. They may be able to get you things like limo-style roll down windows and cash push-throughs. It depends upon your project. But your best bet is a local iron shop that can WORK WITH YOU on the project, and get you over to the plant to check it out as they proceed. I trust that helps! -fhs


Update on LED lights: 5/6/2011: Our toplight and roof sign plant now has LED's in stock, and can menufacture nearly ALL the lights we make with LED illumination. See the dropdown box at each toplight listing for choices and options as well as prices. Light Emitting Diodes are now available in ultra bright versions which equal (in some cases actually exceed) the brightness of light bulbs ("lamps"). This means they will perform well in our applications. They are also those very bright traffic signal module we have noticed - they'll hit you between the eyes at 2:30 in the morning. Automobile and truck manufacturers are using them in vehicle lighting for stop and turn lights too. The reason for the movement is simple. These thiungs use a fraction of the energy of standard lamps, and they have no filaments - those little spring-like coils inside a light bulb. These are the thing that makes old fashioned light bulbs light up when they glow, but they are very fragile.You drop a light bulb and chances are you will need to replace it. Drop an LED which is potted in clear plastic as are ours, and no damage occurs. LED's are still expensive - they have come down some but still will raise the cost of a toplight nearly double for the biggest ones. Some it makes less difference. See our Toplight pages for further information. -fhs

Sept 24, 2009: Essay by Fred Stock:  
    I had a few minutes to browse the web for taxi company listings "just for sprout" as they say this afternoon. It was a collection of listings of companies indexed by city and suburb, with ratings by users and riders. There were many who gave superlative compliments to operators and companies - "really clean and pleasant", "on time and smiling, safe driver and good experience." Well done, and congrats!!  
    Then came the shock when I saw some of the other extreme. "I had to get to work by 4:30 - and I called about 2:30 for an appointment. The dispatcher snarled, "we don't got no cab right now - you call a different number." and hung up on me!" That wasn't the best public relations report, but it wasn't the worst. "I would like to reserve a taxi for two of us to the Buffalo Airport ..." The dispatcher cut me off, "Where?" "Do you mean my address?" With a sarcastic laugh, he snapped, "Well, what do ya tink I mean?" I hung up."  It stands to reason these folks will not be calling this particular company back. It also follows that this operator will be one squawking the loudest when the city regulator has to slap him down with complaints from the public. "These @#$%&* are just trying to be god and king and tell us how to run our businesses!" Well, duhhh?! It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it. I have not even mentioned the ones about reckless driving and speeding, long riding a several block trip for thirty-five minutes and then cussing the passenger for stiffing him on the tip. 
    In church they talk about tithing. Yes, that works. In sales they talk about the smile and the head nodding up and down all the time. Those work too. In public service (that's what we do in this industry, serve the public) the product and philosophy all are the same thing; a clean, pleasant "room" with wheels under it, and a comfortable trip in the best time to the destination. A smile, a clean shirt, and no popcorn or bottle caps on the floor also help. As a professional, I want a professional driver to serve me. As a professional driver, (I was for many years,) I took pride in my offerings to my clients, and as a result, I made a fair living. I recommend it. It also doesn't hurt to learn some tour guide facts (always be accurate and correct - don't make them up) about your area. "See that building? That's where the outgoing governor made his concession speech last month, and also where the city charter was written in 1856. It was signed by two future presidents!" "That restaurant right there is the second oldest business in the village, after the Old Dominion Hotel around the corner." That kind of stuff generates tips, and gets you a call when they make the return trip. -fhs


Here's a good idea! Talked with a client whose regulatory agency makes decisions about allocating new taxi billets on a quick "get-it-done-now" basis, making ordering meters and lights an urgent situation. Today you don't know if you'll be able to put on another taxi, tomorrow you have 36 hours to get it on the street! Yikes! We suggested he put a spare meter on the shelf, but his budget would not support that. So we suggested he put a harness on the shelf. That costs him about $60.00 which his wallet could handle, and allows him to pre-wire a car with the mounting and wiring, and order a meter by fast shipping. Then when the meter comes, the car is ready for it! All he needs to do is a quick calibration (the meter comes preprogrammed with his rates if he buys it from us) and he's ready for inspection in about a half hour. Makes life easier when you are dealing with government folks who may not have a clue about the process of making a car a taxi!


 5/7/8: WASHINGTON D.C. AREA CLIENTS:  New regulations for the Nation's Capitol involve taxi meters and meter programming. They are special to the DC area and cannot be sold outside the city by dealers like TaxiCabElectronics.com.  For a list of the dealers and shops in the Washington DC area with certifications for sales and installation, see the webpage listed just below. Click on the code or copy to your browser. Thanks! http://dctaxi.dc.gov/dctaxi/frames.asp?doc=/dctaxi/lib/dctaxi/ApComp.pdf  If you have a cab in Washington D.C. you will need a Washington D.C. Compatible meter. Click the blue link to find your authorized dealer. The other dealers around the country  and the world (including us) CANNOT sell you this special meter programming. 


As of February 1, 2008, we have dropped the following items from our product lists: business band two way radios,  taxi shields.

Beginning March 15th, 2008, we are offering the TMS program which provides you a FREE wireless Credit Card Processing Terminal Nurit 8000 in their mobile service environment. Save up to $1500.00 with this system per car. Click here.

  

TOUGH TOPLIGHTS!  (10-06) Just spoke with Scott Schroeder in Sioux City Iowa who told me a story about one of the FTC11 toplights he had purchased from www.TaxiCabElectronics.Com . He was driving in the winter and had accumulated about a half an inch of ice on his toplight. Saw a pigeon coming at him but couldn't evade. The bird hit the toplight on the cab and he said "I heard the shattering sound, and knew the toplight was in pieces." He stopped and checked - the ice had shattered and exposed the toplight surface but the toplight was still in tact! No word on the condition of the bird! Yikes!!


CHANGING LIGHT BULBS CAN CAUSE NIGHTMARES! 2/3/5
Light bulbs in toplights burn out. They get wet and crack or get old and just quit. Now it's ten thirty at night, in the dark, and we uncover the light bar looking for a bulb out. Ah, there's the one! Twist it out and reach for a new one. Push that one into the socket and PffFFfftt! Now they're ALL out! Now we start looking for a fuse someplace under the dashboard that's even darker than the roof! RULE 1. After determining which lamps are out, TURN OFF THE POWER. Change the light and then power it up to test it. That way you don't momentarily short out the connections when you press the lamp into the hole! Sound like a simple thing? YES, IT IS!.  RULE 2. Use the right light bulb! I cannot tell you how many times I have found blown fuses and burned wiring in toplights because someone used a lamp requiring two or three times the current "to make it brighter!". Add about five of these to the circuit and you blow a fuse! Most toplights we sell take a #89 or #67 light bulb. The #67's last as much as ten times longer than the #89's, though they cost a few cents more. RULE 3. See rule 2. Some toplights have "flying sockets" which require a two wire light connector. This means you have a different lamp, a #90 or #68 is correct. The reason these have two tips instead of one, but only one filament, is simple. There is no metal shell to provide a ground to the bulb. The socket is clipped into the plastic shell at the top of the light. So the manufacturer chose a two wire socket for the upper bulbs. One tip has ground on it, and the other has the power to light the bulb. Now if you press a single tip light bulb into the socket, you short the power and the ground together. As soon as you power up the light, the fuse blows. Look at the bottom of the lamp after you take out the old bulb. If it has 2 tips, then you need a #90 or #68 lamp to replace it. In New York style toplights, a larger lamp is used - a two tip #1142 is common. DON'T use a two filament taillight lamp. They may light up, but they will be a partial brilliance and may blow fuses. Use the same model lamp as was there from the factory. By the way, we sell replacement lamps in sleeves of ten if you can't get it at the auto parts shop nearby. Call if you need more info. 760-345-4347.


CHANGING LIGHT BULBS - CHAPTER TWO!  2/27/5   
Oh. here's another simple tip to keep a few of those valuable hairs in your head instead of your fist; lamp sockets inside toplights have a brass tip crimped in place. The wire CAN BE PULLED OUT OF IT if you exert too much tug. Don't pull those wires from  beneath the socket. If the socket seems to be caked with dirt, or aged and stuck, turn off the power and then remove the bulb, and PRESS DOWN on the lamp connection inside the socket. You will be able to break the rubber pad loose from the oxide and dirt, and you will even be able to squirt a tiny bit of WD40 around the edge to free up the mechanism (then dry it with a soft cloth before you replace the lamp.) BUT DON'T PULL DOWN ON THAT WIRE UNDER THE SOCKET. When you break off the first brass tip and have to jury-rig some kind of connection, or replace the toplight, you'll remember... maybe. Oh, yah... we sell replacement toplights too, in case you forget!
The man says, "Never stop selling!"


ABOUT MOON ROOFS -  a pox on them! 3/3/5  (Moonroof is a four letter word)
Using vehicles with Moon-Roof Windows (Sun Roof, etc.) causes a whole new set of problems for you. As a general rule, DON'T! What we generally say about moon-roof cars to be set up as taxicabs is this: %#@@#%$^&*!@$%!! See, the moon roof slides back into the part of the roof behind the glass window. And it does so with about 1/4" space from the metal roof itself... which means that there isn't room for the screws that hold the light in place without chancing scratching the glass as it slides back into its nest. There also isn't a reasonable place to install the cable required to light the toplight. Besides the fact that the toplight looks rather silly more than half way BACK on the roof, behind the window. Ah-HA, you say, just put the light in FRONT of the moon roof. Good idea! That is, it's a good idea until the first time you light the toplight at night. If the light is squeezed between the window and the top of the windshield, the light throws considerable illumination down on the glass windshield itself, and every speck of dust and microscopic pit in the glass now glows like a star, obliterating your view of the road. Ever see a squashed moth glowing like a starburst? Oh, it's delightful!  Now, we are working with a local inventor who has come up with a rack device to mount a toplight upon. It will likely cast about $175.00 for one of these, and will mount the light above the moon-roof glass about two inches. When they are available, I will post them on our site here, but for now, do yourself a favor when anticipating a vehicle purchase. If it has a moon-roof, ask to see a different vehicle.
UPDATE: 2013; Local inventor says the cost has gotten much higher, and shipping of this iron rack device is prohibitive in cost. Final answer: don't try to use a moonroof vehicle for a cab.,


ABOUT SETTING METER RATES IN YOUR AREA  3/25/5  Just My Opinion:
Gasoline rates are going through the roof. Here in California they are probably the highest in the nation according to the TV newscasters. I know of one place that is charging over $3.00 per gallon right now, as the rest of the country averages about $2.26. It's the same station that was over $2.00 per gallon when the rest of the country was at $1.21a couple of years back, so greed figures into it; the oil people are doing their best to squeeze our industry and anybody else they can. The chart you will find on our rates page, (click this link: www.taxicabelectronics.com/Rates.htm) reflects rates we have been asked to program into meters over a period of perhaps three or four years. Many may have changed. By studying these, we see the industry as it has been in communities small and large. Palm Desert and Palm Springs California have been at $2.16 per mile, then $2.32 for a couple of years, and recently kicked the mile up to a maximum of $2.96 per mile to try to compensate for the price rises at the pumps. Not all companies are going up, and not all operators will collect full fare for their rides, preferring discounts that attract return trips and call-again business. But before setting your rates, consider if you will, the fares elsewhere, the market in which you operate and the fact that you can always change later if you are too high or too low. Reducing rates is always received better than jacking them up, and, depending upon what your competition is doing, your rates may place a different face on your business than you might otherwise have. Something to think about. -Fred Stock

 

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