NEW YORK—In his first public appearance since a New York State Supreme Court struck down the city’s Taxi of Tomorrow plan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed he would not give up on the project and plans to appeal.
“Keep in mind, the public wants this and the drivers want this. There are a handful of owners who think they would be better off with a monopoly,” Bloomberg said at an unrelated press conference in Staten Island on Oct. 10. “We think the judge couldn’t be more wrong and that we have the right to do this.”
The Taxi of Tomorrow, which was slated to be released later this month, is a Nissan NV200 van. A decision made by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) mandated that all yellow cabs be changed to the NV200.
In his 13-page ruling released late Tuesday afternoon, Judge Shlomo Hagler ruled it was not the responsibility of the TLC to designate an exclusive model. The judge said the decision belongs to the City Council.
The Taxi of Tomorrow faced intense criticism since it was announced as the winner of the Taxi of Tomorrow contest. Critics argued the gas mileage on a non-hybrid van would be too high. In May, a judge in a separate ruling said the Taxi of Tomorrow violated a law requiring the city to approve at least one hybrid model.
The van was originally not accessible for handicapped people, a fact that angered the accessibility community. With only 234 wheel-chair accessible taxis, limited new cabs would not help. An aftermarket company can make the NV200 wheelchair accessible, but for an additional cost.
“I think this would also be something that would give us the kind of taxis we would want, that are comfortable, are safe, and identifiable,” the mayor said Thursday. “We have the right balance between those that are big enough to take wheelchairs and those that are not.”
Both candidates for mayor, Democrat Bill de Blasio, and Republican Joe Lhota, have been lukewarm about the Taxi of Tomorrow. It is unclear if either candidate would continue the appeal if elected.