By Naomi Cohen
The Nissan Taxi of Tomorrow will replace all New York City yellow cabs, including hybrids, due to regulations signed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) Thursday. Despite Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2007 plan for the “largest, cleanest fleet of taxis anywhere on the planet” by mandating hybrid taxis, the Nissan NV200 Taxi operates what would have been the minimum fuel efficiency for taxis.
The model, which won a design competition last year, features higher safety standards, anti-microbial seats and USB charging access—but no wheelchair accessibility.
Ethan B. Gerber, executive director of the Greater New York Taxi Association, said in a statement Thursday that he is
“disappointed that … the City has taken a giant step backwards when it comes to making our taxi fleet accessible and environmentally friendly. This is an irresponsible choice and I am outraged that the disabled community will continue to berelegated to second class status when it comes to getting around New York like everyone else.”
Disability rights groups filed a lawsuit, supported by the U.S. Attorney, that the new cab violates their rights. Bloomberg’s other taxi plan, which would allow street hailling in the outer boroughs, is also facing three lawsuits and a temporary judicial injunction. Besides adding 18,000 new borough taxis—also not wheelchair-accessible—the city would auction off 2,000 yellow taxi
medallions, which would ease the budget deficit but anger medallion owners. Bloomberg bypassed the City Council to obtain Governor Cuomo’s approval, a move which drew criticism and contributed to the injunction.
Without the anticipated revenue, Bloomberg may lay off city workers and cut city agencies. The job threat, though, may encourage City Council to move the outer-borough taxi plan forward. The Boro Taxis expected a release in June, and the Taxi of Tomorrow will hit the streets next year. After a three-year phase-in, the Nissan NV200 Taxi will be virtually the only model in the city.
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