If you hail a cab in New York, you might get an old-school Crown Vic or a compact Prius or a hybrid Explorer. But in the next few years, chances are you'll step inside the boxy Nissan NV200, the most recent addition to the fleet and, as of today, the city's official taxi.
For nearly a decade, NYC has been developing a new taxi that will better serve the thousands of people who ride in them every day. The new cabs have slowly been trickling into the city's current fleet of 14,000 vehicles and according to a June 2015 Bloomberg report, about 700 are in use. Officials hope that the NV200 will represent about 80% of total cabs over the next 10 years, which should be attainable considering that the city has a contract with Nissan to be the sole provider of cabs. If drivers purchase a new cab after today, it will have to be the NV200, and that will run them about $29,900.
Redesigning NY's taxi to meet today's demands was an arduous task and depended on feedback from riders to figure out what the most important issues to address. To that end, the Design Trust for Public Space polled over 23,000 people on what was most important to them and worked with the Taxi and Limousine Commission on how to integrate the needs into the revamped design, along with improved safety and environmental considerations.
While the design has been praised by some, it has been controversial to others. During its development, judges shut down the project claiming that the city was overstepping its bounds by mandating a specific car be put in use. Wheelchair passengers have to enter the taxi from the rear, which exposes them to traffic. And some drivers claim that the suspension is bad. (For the record, I've ridden in one and the ride is certainly bumpier than in other cabs.)
If you haven't ridden in one yet, here's what you can expect (aside from a bumpier ride):
1) A sun roof so you can gaze at the skyscrapers and city sights
2) USB charging stations in the passenger seats so you never have to annoy the driver if your iPhone is at 7% and you need a boost
3) "For hire" signs that are easier to see—no more confusing rooftop ads for availability
4) Less-obnoxious horns to help curtail noise pollution
5) Sliding passenger doors, which are less risky to open
6) Passenger airbags
7) Vents and A/C that you can control from the back seats
8) A flat floor to make it easier to slide in and out of the cab and more leg room
9) More space for luggage in the rear
10) Wheelchair accessible (but drivers have to buy all the necessary gear and equipment separately from the $29,900 list price)
Like it or not, the Taxi of Tomorrow is here to stay.
[via the New York Times]