NYC Taxi of Tomorrow Crosses Major Hurdle

By Kristen Meriwether, Epoch Times
June 20, 2013 Updated: June 21, 2013

NEW YORK—The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) approved the Nissan NV200 as the required model for taxi drivers for the next decade by a vote of seven to one, paving the way for its widespread adoption over the next decade. 

Commissioner Nora Marino was the lone vote against adopting the NV200. Her unanswered concerns about the taxis involve the fact that it is designed by a Japanese company, and manufactured in Mexico. “It does not create one New York job,” Marino said, adding that in the current economy, this is unacceptable. 

None of the seven vehicles submitted for the Taxi of Tomorrow were manufactured in the U.S., according to a spokesperson from the TLC. Bound by U.S. laws, the TLC could not mandate a vehicle be made stateside.

Marino also had issue with the 10-year contract. “There may be a better car a year from now and we are going to be locked into this 10-year contract. I just don’t see how this can be good for the city at all,” she said.

The move came as little surprise, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg has openly supported the Taxi of Tomorrow initiative. Four of the eight commissioners at the TLC, who are responsible for regulating and licensing the taxi industry, are appointed by the mayor, including chair David Yassky. None of the eight members are currently, or have ever been, a taxi driver.

The model was adopted, but it will be revoked if the NV200 van does not pass a crash safety test before it is set to be released for use in October of this year.

The NV200 has faced stiff resistance from disability rights advocates as well as those wanting a hybrid model. The NV200 does not come off the assembly line wheelchair accessible, however, Nissan contracted with a company to retrofit the vehicle to be accessible. 

Beginning in October, the city will auction off the first allotment of 2,000 accessible medallions. Baring any legal action against the NV200—which currently has multiple lawsuits against it—those vehicles will be retrofitted with a design many disability rights advocates do not approve of.

The NV200 has garnered support as well. Emergency room physicians from Bellevue and NYU Langone Medical Center praised the improved safety features for the NV200. Business groups such as the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for New York, The Association for a Better New York (ABNY), and the Real Estate Board of New York, all issued their seal of approval. 

The NV200 is expected to hit the streets of New York this October.