City Holding International Competition to Redesign Taxis

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


An iconic symbol of the city is facing a makeover. The city is holding an international design competition to redesign the yellow cab. The winner will have the exclusive right to make taxis for the next decade.

Currently 16 different vehicles are approved for use as taxis. But the city is looking for a single model that will be used by all: one that is safe, comfortable, fuel efficient, affordable and accessible.

A discussion was held at the at the Museum of the City of New York on Tuesday about the Taxi of Tomorrow competition and what needs to happen to transform the taxi for the 21st century.

The group included the head of the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, David Yassky, as well as the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities, leaders in the design community, an auto consultant, the president of a group of fleet owners and an owner-driver.

The cabbie, Cliff Adler, who's been driving for more than 30 years, hopes the city considers the comfort of the driver who’s often behind the wheel for 10 or more hours. He believes it's also asking for trouble to rely on just one taxi manufacturer.

“There's gonna come a day when something is in short supply and you're gonna see, 300, 600 cabs, one going down after the other because they’re missing some part.”

The President of the Metropolitan Taxi Cab Board of Trade, Ron Sherman, also worries that malfunctions could cause headaches if there isn't more variety.

"We feel that there should be at least 2 or 3 choices -- that stakes are too high to rely on just one provider to accomplish this."

Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yasky says the benefits of working with a single automaker are worth the risks.

"Only the city government can act on behalf of the entire industry in getting the best deal possible from the manufacturers. I think that's worth it."

He says that no other city has ever tried this, but that the only way to meet all the goals is by being pro-active and not picking from what is already on the market.

Finalists are expected to be announced by the beginning of next year. The winning design will officially hit the road by 2014. The city expects that the entire current taxi fleet will be replaced within three to five years of the introduction of the new cabs.


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Comments [3]

Carol from NYC

We need a hybrid cab designed to serve short (elderly) people (with knee problems) for whom the step-up on the running board now is more difficult and complex than the step-up on the bus. The bus floor level can be lowered, not the cab's; and you can stand straight up getting on the bus, but in a cab you have to hunch over, with nothing to grab onto in front of you (only high on the side). One end's up feeling like a child crawling up on the chair that's just a little too high. I remember the large taxis with jump seats, and shout out a "hurrah" when I've, by pure luck, hailed one today. It's like walking into the ride, once again.

Nov. 15 2010 01:24 PM
caroline hightower from nyc

mentioned on npr, no link, found this, pics moved by, no indication how to vote, and any vote would be meaningless because these were simply a quick take, for the most part, on the exterior design...hope you get decent response but that the final selection will be left to pros.

Nov. 15 2010 01:20 PM
Steven Crowell from Massachuetts

The notion that some manufacturer of automobiles will be able to begin what Checker motors couldn't continue to do... is absurd. This 'iconic' cab 'of the future' nonsense is just another gimic intended to COST the cab owners, drivers and passengers, and inteneded to PAY the TLC with an artificially restricted entry to the cab vehicle market. Let natural market forces determine which vehicle serves best. The TLC has been dreaming that car makers will accommodate them... by delivering a 'purpose built' TAXI OF THE FUTURE... for decades, so far, with zero success. Cab owners don't need advice from the TLC (essentially, ignorant-outsiders) about which vehicle will serve them best.

Nov. 11 2010 06:55 AM

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