Editorial: New York's search for a cab never ends
The Taxi of Tomorrow -- which was poised for an Oct. 28 rollout -- is suddenly going nowhere fast.
A State Supreme Court justice this week blocked the inauguration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's dream cab, which promised superior leg room, reading lamps, charger ports for phones and other amenities.
The decision seriously clouds the future of the taxi -- known officially as the Nissan NV200.
The problem? Bloomberg overstepped his authority when he decreed that one iconic taxi should dominate the city's yellow-cab fleet, Justice Shlomo Hagler ruled. While the mayor can set technical specs for taxi operations, Hagler said, policy decisions are up to the City Council.
Bloomberg says he'll appeal.
But there's another hitch as well. While the NV200 heads for further litigation, the meter is running down on the Bloomberg mayoralty, which ends Dec. 31.
And neither of Bloomberg's likely successors -- Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota -- is a Taxi of Tomorrow fan.
A Mayor de Blasio or a Mayor Lhota could simply drop the appeal once in office and instantly consign the Taxi of Tomorrow to oblivion.
We hope that's not what happens. But if it is, the new mayor owes the city's 500,000 long-suffering, daily yellow-cab riders something more than the taxi of today -- which all too often is grungy, cramped and uncomfortable.
If the NV200 is no longer an option, the new mayor must come up with a major taxi redesign of his own and this time win City Council approval.
This won't be easy.
Taxi politics is fraught with special-interest politicking, and nonstop litigation. For example: In his run for mayor, front-runner de Blasio has already accepted at least $250,000 in campaign contributions from the taxi industry.
The city has faced opposition on the NV200 from taxi fleet owners, environmentalists and advocates for the handicapped. If City Council approval is required, a redo could be even harder. But it shouldn't be this difficult to give New Yorkers a better ride.