Taxis

Yesterday's Taxi of Tomorrow, Today! (Whether you like it or not.)

The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission opts for one cab to drive them all.

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A Nissan NV200
IFCAR / Wikimedia

The success of Uber and other ride-booking companies in New York City has highlighted just how antiquated the services of the taxicab industry, a municipally enforced monopoly, are. It's also demonstrated riders' preference for choice in transportation.

But yesterday a new rule from the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) that gives riders and drivers less choice in yellow cabs went into effect. The TLC now mandates that all new and replacement yellow taxis, with limited exceptions for alternatively fueled and handicap-accessible vehicles, be the same Nissan van for the next 10 years. 

The TLC dubbed the Nissan NV200 the "Taxi of Tomorrow" four years ago, and believes this one van will meet the diverse needs of not just today's but also ten-years-from-now's riders and drivers. 

Although taxi medallion owners fought the erosion of their monopoly as ride-booking apps entered the scene, they seem to prefer competition when acting as consumers. In 2013, a group of them sued the TLC, challenging Nissan's exclusive 10-year contract with New York City.

Speaking to Automotive News in 2014, Attorney Ethan Gerber for the Greater New York Taxi Association, an industry trade group representing taxi owners, stated: 

"Look, Nissan is a good company. And the NV200 is not a bad car. If it turns out that people like it, then great—they should be able to sell them here. But why can't we have competition? Why did the city think there had to be exclusivity? It stifles competition and stops innovation. Why couldn't we just have standards for the taxi, and if Toyota and Ford wanted to offer an identical vehicle that might be somehow better or more competitive, why can't they?"

Why can't they indeed.

With a $1 billion exclusive contract with the TLC on the line, Nissan Taxi Marketing N.A. LLC and Nissan North America Inc. had filed motions to intervene as interested parties and submit an answer in the lawsuit against the TLC. The New York State Supreme Court granted Nissan's motion in its entirety.

Though some doubted whether the "Taxi of Tomorrow" would ever arrive, the New York State Court of Appeals held this June that the TLC does have statutory authority to require medallion owners to purchase a single specific vehicle. 

In the end, Nissan's litigation efforts seemed to have paid off, as did its more-than-$2 million public relations campaign promoting the NV200 in New York City. (Rob Schwartz, the chief creative officer at Nissan's longtime ad agency, once told the New York Times that "this is the greatest moment for taxis since Danny DeVito played Louie De Palma on 'Taxi.'") The media blitz was apparently enough to overcome then–New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's contention that supporting the NV200 amounted to "contributing to a Nuclear Iran," since Nissan had done business in the country. 

Back in 2012, de Blasio tweeted an apparently photoshopped image of Iranian hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waving from an NV200 (see below). As mayor, however, he has overseen the implementation of the van's 10-year reign as New York City's official taxi.

Bill de Blasio Tweets Ahmadinejad in a Cab
Bill de Blasio Tweets Ahmadinejad in a Cab

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64 responses to “Yesterday's Taxi of Tomorrow, Today! (Whether you like it or not.)

  1. Remember kids, vote for Progressives like de Blasio because they’re On Your Side against the evil mega-corporations and the 1%, except when they’re engaging in blatant cronyism and outlawing their competition.

  2. I’ve never been to NYC, so can someone tell me if this is some kind of elaborate joke?

    1. The TLC and de Blasio are actually Uber plants. That’s the only explanation.

    2. No, NYC is actually a real place. Even harder to believe – some people want to be there. I’ve never understood their motivations for even a second.

      1. Self-loathing flagellants are not extinct, it seems

      2. Oh, I’m sorry, did you find a libertopia somewhere else and fail to tell the rest of us about it?

        1. Yeah, it’s called Texas.

          *I know Texas is no libertopia.

    3. “England no longer existed. He’d got that–somehow he’d got it. He tried again. America, he thought, was gone. He couldn’t grasp it. He decided to start smaller again. New York has gone. No reaction. He’d never seriously believed it existed anyway. The dollar, he thought, has sunk for ever. Slight tremor there. Every Bogart movie has been wiped, he said to himself, and that gave him a nasty knock. McDonald’s, he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald’s hamburger.

      He passed out. When he came round a second later he found he was sobbing for his mother.”

    4. NYC is absolutely an elaborate joke. It’s full of people trying desperately to live at each other’s expense. A great place to visit, but I’d hate to live there.

      1. ” It’s full of people trying desperately to live at each other’s expense”

        NYC doesn’t exactly have the market cornered on that attribute.

  3. I hate that car, this policy, the Taxi Commission, everything about this… until I saw that picture of a smiling Ahmadinejad waving to me. That is GOLD!

    1. Indeed! God Bless you, Jack for digging that up and putting that out there for all to see!

    2. Fun fact: He drives taxis there every other Wednesday, and he’s yet to be recognized….

      1. People don’t even comment that he’s driving from the passenger seat.

  4. OT: Trump Slams Weiner

    Is there *no end* to what The Donald will do to stay in the news?

    1. There is if you erase the T, cousin.

      1. Quite asstute, A C!

  5. More piles of millions for the system gamers.

  6. Jesus, this story has it all: The city’s interventionism in the market, The Cab companies hypocrisy in opposing this yet demanding government protection from Uber, Progressive cronyism and monopoly enforcement. Did I miss anything else?

    1. Complete bassakwards response to the shrinking taxi market by imposing an expensive new mandate?

      1. The Nissan van is actually a pretty nifty vehicle, and if bought by ordinary consumers it can be reasonably priced — but guess what kind of negotiating clout you have as a medallion owner if the dealer KNOWS you have to buy that vehicle?

        That, and the whole lack of choice means higher prices and worse service and less innovation — for taxis.

        1. Bring back the old Checker cabs.

          Those things were built like a tank.

          1. In Kalamazoo, MI. They were so cool.

    2. praise/hate capitalism == praise/hate big gubment

    3. Yep, that deBlasio, evidently without flinching, switched sides in the debate.

  7. “Nissan Taxi Marketing N.A. LLC ”

    I’m not sure “marketing” is the right word here.

  8. So we have to ride around NY in these special-ed buses for the next decade because Nissan paid off the right people?

      1. “For now…”

        -Gawker Media

        1. I kinda doubt that’s a direct quote since there’s nothing about someone they don’t like having a gay Ashely Madison account.

  9. intern verb positioning in awkward first sentence

    Suggested rewrite: The success of Uber, and other ride-booking companies, highlights how truly antiquated are the services of New York City?s taxicab industry, a municipally enforced monopoly.

    1. The antiquated services of New York City’s taxicab industry (a government-enforced monopoly) are highlighted by the success of Uber and other ride-booking companies.

      1. The success of Uber and other ride-booking companies continues to highlight the antiquation of New York City’s government-enforced taxicab monopoly.

        1. Reflecting my apathy about how NYC screws its residents and visitors, probably.

    2. “NYC CABS SUCK ASS – UBER RULES!!!”

  10. I think the official NYC cab should be a Segway towing a Radio Flyer wagon. Can you picture it?

  11. The new cars are hideous and I fucking hate sliding doors.

    Anyway… I was pretty sure that every generation of cabs was a contractual deal – this isn’t anything new.

    1. I had my hand caught in a sliding door when I was a kid. Almost busted my knuckles. Ever since then I’ve never had a strong opinion about sliding doors one way or another.

    2. Yeah, the sliding doors blow. Absolutely blow. I much prefer riding in a sedan. Ugh. Now you’re always going to have to climb in and out, too. Fuck that noise.

      1. I much prefer riding in a sedan.

        Me too. My sister came to town and I hired a car service to pick her up (way better than getting her myself). When I’ve used them in the past, it was always a Town Car. They picked her up in a Lincoln SUV. Really pissed me off.

    3. Yeah, exactly. The TLC has always decided what the model of cabs is; that part of the story isn’t new. (Nb., the cars don’t have to all change at once, so you will sometimes see a mix of generations, and the TLC sometimes approves a few experimental or oddball models, like the Mercedes E350.)

      1. The new part is the ADA rearing its ugly, expensive head yet again. Something like 1/2 of all cabs going forward must be “wheelchair accessible” despite the fact that in 20 years I have never seen a wheelchair entering or exiting the already considerable number of such. You’d almost think they already have a dedicated, cheaper system dedicated to them or something.

  12. Is it just me, or is this municipal interference on a par with Chicago selling its parking meters for the next few decades?
    I remember people blaming private industry for that deal, but only a public organization would have offered it. You can’t blame the private company for profiting from the outgoing mayor’s desire to build a legacy at the expense of everyone else.

    1. Yes you can, you can ALWAYS blame the private company. Since a public entity is involved, there should be NO profit under any circumstance and the system should just break even, nothing more. The private companies should provide the best they can at the lowest cost sustainable.

      Remember the slogan, comrade: From each according to his ability, to each accordng to his need.

  13. It’s cronies, all the way down.

  14. BRING BACK THE CHECKER MARATHON

    1. I don’t know what this is. Is this like Running of the Bulls but with cabs? Because that would be awesome.

      1. I think he’s referring to the famous “Checker” cabs that ran in NYC until the 70s and in Hollywood versions of NYC until the 90s or so.

  15. “The TLC now mandates that all new and replacement yellow taxis, with limited exceptions for alternatively fueled and handicap-accessible vehicles, be the same Nissan van for the next 10 years. “

    Citizens of New York, hear me!

    l am your new president.

    From this day on, the official language of New York City will be Swedish.

    Silence!

    ln addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check.

    Furthermore, all children under sixteen years old are now…sixteen years old.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYjlZVNFjiI

  16. “The TLC dubbed the Nissan NV200 the “Taxi of Tomorrow” four years ago, and believes this one van will meet the diverse needs of not just today’s but also ten-years-from-now’s riders and drivers. ”

    They don’t believe any such thing. This is cronyism, plain and clear. You can bet your ass that there is one guy selling these to the city. He and the members of the TLC are going to be wildly rich for the next ten years.

    Every time someone tries to tell me how great NYC is I think of shit like this.

    1. greatest shitty in the world

    2. You can bet your ass that there is one guy selling these to the city.

      Unless you were speaking metaphorically, you’ve misunderstood; the city isn’t buying these. The TLC regulates the taxi industry, but it doesn’t actually own the taxis.

      Every time someone tries to tell me how great NYC is I think of shit like this.

      The funny thing is that every time there’s a story about Goat Rope, MO, we don’t get a ton of New Yorkers sneering about how they would never live there.

      1. but it doesn’t actually own the taxis.

        Strange how they still get to make the decision, then.

      2. You know with your whole heart that they think it every time, and often say it among themselves.

        1. Never heard the term “Fly-over state”?

  17. Checker Marathon
    .
    Capacious and durable.

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  19. Sadly, the furthest place on Earth from NYC is in the ocean, a good ways off the coast of Perth.

  20. I would understand, if they recommended Nissan for a taxi… but to mandate it, is just too much. Yay to the country of freedom!

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