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New Yorkers Get A Feel For "Taxi Of Tomorrow"

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New Yorkers will now have the chance to feel what it's like to ride in the "Taxi of Tomorrow" courtesy of a virtual exhibit.

A model of the new Nissan NV 200 went on display Monday morning on 23rd Street in the Flatiron District.

It opens to the public Tuesday.

The new taxis will hit the road in 2013 and gradually replace the current fleet of 13,000 over the next three to five years.

"The goal here was to partner with a car company and have it use its best engineers, its best designers to redesign a taxi so it's best for the rider and the driver and we really got what we were looking for here," said Taxi and Limousine Commission Commissioner David Yassky.

"It's not only the exterior design, but also a real focus on the interior. And that's what the taxi rider cares about," said Joe Castelli of Nissan North America.

Some of the features included in the new cab's design are a panoramic roof, more legroom, assistance steps and handles, even an iPod charger.

However, the selection of the Nissan NV 200 has not been without controversy.

Advocates for the disabled say the city should have chosen a wheelchair accessible option instead, and have filed a lawsuit arguing the new taxi violates the Americans With Disabilities Act.

"I am outraged that here New York City is presenting the 'Taxi of Tomorrow,' and it's not wheelchair accessible. It's not one that I can hail at the corner like every other New Yorker," said design opponent Nadina La Spina.

"The problem is it clearly violates ADA. Not only is it not built to fit specifications of ADA or wheelchair accessible, you can't even modify it," said Assemblyman Micah Kellner.

Efforts are now underway both in the City Council and in Albany requiring all city taxis to be wheelchair accessible.

"Well look, this vehicle is designed so it can be stretched to accommodate a wheelchair inside a vehicle. We already have 230 vehicles like that on the road. We have legislation in Albany that would raise that number to 800," Yassky said.

The city says it's pushing ahead with replacing the fleet with the new design, despite the lawsuit.

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