What do taxicabs say about a city? Witold Rybczynski suggests that the quality of taxis is indicative of a city's success and proposes a "taxi index" for ranking cities. Robinson Meyer at the Atlantic Cities makes a similar point and argues cities should have distinct taxis. While there are advantages for individual cities to brand themselves with distinct taxis, I think there are also benefits for travelers when they recognize similar services in multiple cities. For instance, yellow is a popular color for taxis in all US cities (though there are other colors) and people recognize yellow cars as taxis. This is an advantage for taxi service even though yellow taxis are just copying New York's color scheme.
The "Data Evangelist" for Uber compares neighborhoods the company serves in this piece.*
This was a couple weeks ago, but Jalopniik had a great Q&A with a New York cabbie.
Marketplace has a story about smart phone apps that help hail taxis. More here and here. ZapKab seems to have a good publicist. These apps mostly focus on the NYC market, but I suspect they will be more useful in other markets and in the boroughs of NYC other than Manhattan.
Samsung has filed a patent on a service that lets passengers put out an SOS call to alert police when their driver in dangerous.** Perhaps Apple already is working on this.
*I hate the title "Data Evangelist." If you are evangelical you do not need data, and you certainly don't conduct robust research because being an evangelist suggests you want to convert other people to your view, nevermind the evidence. Just call yourself the Director of Research or something.
**This is a stupid patent. Good idea, dumb patent.