Updated 04/04/2012 12:06 AM
Mayor Bloomberg, Nissan Unveil "Taxi Of Tomorrow"
City officials and Nissan unveiled on Tuesday new taxi cabs hitting the streets of New York City next year, but while the new vehicles offer features like charging ports for riders' electronics and more leg room, both environmentalists and disability advocates object to the new fleet. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
On Tuesday, the Bloomberg administration rolled out the next version of a New York City icon.
"This taxi for the 21st century was designed from the inside out and the result is the safest, most comfortable, most passenger friendly taxi to ever hit our streets," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The Nissan NV200 won a city competition to replace the current cab model, the Ford Crown Victoria. It is filled with new features, including plugs for electronics, a skylight and flashing lights when drivers lean on the horn.
The contract, which is in its final stages, could be worth as much as $1 billion.
But not everyone is a happy customer. Environmentalists say the new fleet won't be as green.
"In 2005, the city led the way in the nation by putting hybrid taxis on the street. That was good for air pollution and fuel economy. The current taxi that is about to be unveiled is a step backwards," said Mark Izeman of the National Resources Defense Council.
Disability advocates say the car is not wheelchair accessible. Some of those advocates are currently challenging the city in court over access to cabs for the disabled.
"Apparently it is not offensive to those same politicians to deny people in wheelchairs access. Despite the fact that it keeps them home bound, unemployed or underemployed, and socially immobile. The next mayor will fix this," said James Weisman of the United Spinal Association.
But taxi officials say Nissan is working on a wheelchair-accessible model.
"Nissan has designed an accessible version of this car that is way superior to the accessible taxis on the street today. It will come in an accessible version or the standard version," said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky.
Despite the ongoing lawsuit, these cars will start hitting the streets in 2013. By 2018, they will be entirely phased in, becoming the "taxi of today."