The Bloomberg administration's controversial plan to require all cab drivers to operate the same non-hybrid, non-handicap accessible Nissan minivan was dealt a heavy blow yesterday by a New York State Supreme Court judge, who ruled that the so-called "Taxi of Tomorrow" mandate exceeded the TLC's authority. "The power to contract and compel medallion owners to purchase” the Taxi of Tomorrow “does not exist in the City Charter," Justice Shlomo S. Hagler ruled.
The lawsuit was filed by a group of taxi operators called the Greater New York Taxi Association. In addition to arguing that the TLC lacked the authority to require drivers to use ONE cab exclusively, the plaintiffs posited that the Taxi of Tomorrow actually breaks the law, which requires that the TLC have a hybrid car option. As we reported when the lawsuit was filed in January, the Nissan is gas-only and would replace some hybrids already on the road.
Nissan, which won a 10-year contract with the city worth an estimated $1 billion, says it's not stopping production, despite the ruling. The new minivans were to being phasing-in this month. Nissan said it is "disappointed in the court’s decision, but it will not prevent our plan to start upgrading the NYC taxi fleet with the Nissan Taxi of Tomorrow at the end of the month. Given the specific NYC taxi research and development that we have conducted, we are confident that the Nissan taxi provides optimal safety, comfort and convenience for passengers and drivers alike."
The city Law Department plans to appeal the ruling, but administration officials told the NY Times that "completing such a challenge before Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg leaves office could be difficult."
Mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio has openly opposed the Taxi of Tomorrow plan, and one of his biggest campaign contribution bundlers is Evgeny "Gene" Freidman, president of Taxi Club Inc., which has fought the Taxi of Tomorrow. In an interview with Crain's, Friedman said, "If the next mayor makes accessibility and hybrid technology or fuel-saving technology a priority, then we don't need to have a uniform car."