NYC Cab Fleet Owners Can Appeal ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’

New York’s cab industry won permission to hail a ride to Albany to challenge the city’s $1 billion plan for the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” a new fleet of cabs from Nissan Motor Co., before the state’s top court.

An appellate court in Manhattan that declared the plan legal in June today authorized the fleet operators to contest that ruling at the Court of Appeals in the state capital. The Greater New York Taxi Association, which brought the lawsuit, said the program “has been flawed from the beginning.”

“The Taxi of Tomorrow as planned forces owners to purchase a single foreign-made vehicle, which is neither fuel-efficient nor wheelchair accessible,” the group said in a statement.

Nissan won a contract in 2011 valued at $1 billion over 10 years to supply more than 15,000 minivans with sliding doors, more luggage space and airbags in the back, for the city’s taxi fleet. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in September 2012 designated the Nissan NV200 as the official “Taxi of Tomorrow” and required owners of medallions, which confer the right to operate yellow cabs in New York, to buy the $29,700 vehicles.

Taxi fleet operators sued the city in December 2012 seeking to block the requirement, and a judge halted the program five months later, saying it violated the administrative code because it didn’t allow medallion owners to buy hybrid vehicles. The city then revised the rules to let medallion owners buy hybrids until Nissan develops a hybrid version of the NV200.

2013 Lawsuit

The operators sued again in July 2013, and a judge blocked the plan from going forward, saying the commission exceeded its authority under the city charter by requiring the purchase of a specific vehicle.

Kate O’Brien Ahlers, a spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department, said the city is awaiting further proceedings in the matter.

The lower-court case is Greater New York Taxi Association v. New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, 101083/2013, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

(An earlier version of this story corrected a description of the plaintiffs.)

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