So New York City’s taxi saga continues.
This morning, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) voted to approve the Taxi of Tomorrow program, which will create a nearly exclusive-model vehicle that will serve as the city’s new taxi. This means that the city’s taxi fleet – currently a mix of different vehicle models, about half of which are hybrid vehicles – will soon be overwhelmingly made up of conventional combustion-engine Nissan NV200s.
As my colleague Mark Izeman wrote, and as I recently testified at the TLC’s public hearing on the matter, it is not clear that the final agreement between New York City and Nissan to implement the Taxi of Tomorrow program will offer a path forward to a fleet made up of strong hybrid or electric-only taxis. And in the meantime, the city will have lost its thousands of hybrid cabs that serve as an important symbol of the city’s commitment to sustainable living—symbolism that will be lost if the program does not take swift action to ensure the introduction of a hybrid or electric model into the new fleet.
Thus, from an environmental perspective based on both fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions, the Taxi of Tomorrow program’s current iteration presents a big missed opportunity or even a step backwards.
So the decision has been made. But it’s not too late for New York and Nissan officials to ensure that the city will continue to move forward in sustainability efforts around its iconic taxi fleet. Now is the time for TLC and Nissan to lay out a clear path to putting strong hybrid or electric taxicabs on the road in the near future.