With just a few weeks to go before the rules implementing the Taxi of Tomorrow were to take effect, one of Mayor Bloomberg’s signature plans may be dead as a New York State judge ruled today that the city does not have the authority to implement such a plan. In siding with the taxi industry over the city in the battle over the Nissan NV200, Judge Shlomo Hagler summed up his view, “Simply stated, the power to contract and compel medallion owners to purchase the Nissan NV200 from Nissan for ten years does not exist in the City Charter.” Rather, Hagler opined, the City Council should set these standards.
Bloomberg, no friend of the taxi industry, had first announced the Taxi of Tomorrow competition as a way to leverage the city’s purchasing power while selecting cars that were safe and spacious. The move has come under fire in recent months though as the Nissan NV200s are not as fuel-efficient as the options available for the current fleet and aren’t handicap-accessible either. His administration will appeal, but it is unclear if our next mayor would continue the site as both Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio have not embraced the Taxi of Tomorrow.
Meanwhile, as Ted Mann notes in The Journal, this ruling could leave the city liable to Nissan for some costs as well. As Mann writes, “The carmaker’s contract with the TLC would permit it to recoup design and production costs in the event the taxi project is cancelled by the city. Nissan estimated those costs, in a document previously filed with the court, at roughly $50 million, though some familiar with the matter have said the costs could be higher.”