A Chicago taxi fleet has installed back-seat payment card-acceptance terminals in roughly 30 of its vehicles. Long Island, N.Y.-based Creative Mobile Technologies is providing the terminals, which also are being deployed in cabs in New York City. "The system we use in Chicago is a full generation better than the ones in New York," says Mike Levine, chairman of Taxi Medallion Management LLC, which owns and operates some 2,400 taxis in Chicago and its suburbs. Levine is overseeing the installation of the Creative Mobile terminals, including in some 300 cabs his company operates in New York. The advantage of back-seat terminals is riders can swipe their cards themselves and initiate transaction authorizations before arriving at their destinations. Terminal screens can show trip progress on maps, which riders also may use to search for other locations in the city, Levine says. Advertisers can use the devices to pitch commercials and coupons to riders, and riders with Bluetooth-enabled phones can upload coupons they can use at locations near their destinations, he adds. The terminals communicate in New York and Chicago using Sprint's mobile network. Drivers in Chicago will find those connections faster and more reliable than previous card terminals, which route transactions over 450 megahertz secure radio networks, Levine says. Drivers in Chicago pay 5% of their fares in fees to cover the cost of the credit card transaction and terminal maintenance. The terminals also may help boost tips by giving the option to add 15% or 20% to the fares instead of leaving tip calculations up to the riders, according to Levine. Drivers in Chicago can collect their full fares from card transactions at the ends of each shift instead of waiting a few days for the transactions to clear, a factor that annoyed many drivers in New York, Levine says. Taxi Medallion Management is researching the possibility of providing Chicago drivers with reloadable debit cards to access accounts into which the company can load their earnings. This would eliminate the need for drivers to show up in person to receive their card payments, Levine adds.

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