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Can One Taxi Model Please Everyone?

August 26, 2010

Now that Ford is discontinuing its Crown Victoria, New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission is holding a contest to replace not only the Crown Vic but also the 10 other vehicles that currently operate as yellow cabs in the city.

For the contest, called Taxi of Tomorrow, the commission has asked carmakers to design a vehicle that will be the singular New York taxicab, built specifically for that purpose. The winner gets an exclusive 10-year contract with the city.

A city commissioner said the city is looking for "the perfect vehicle to be a New York taxi." But that might be a difficult task for a cab system that carries nearly 700,000 passengers a day. For example, some people might want an SUV, while others might want a minivan or sedan, not to mention handicapped passengers, or passengers with lots and lots of luggage who need trunk space.

Not everyone is thrilled with the details of the contest. One taxicab driver said the Crown Vic was "roomy, comfortable, and reliable."

And the fact that just one vehicle model will be the singular New York taxicab worries some taxi fleet owners. One taxi fleet owner said that eliminates competition and might increase prices. He added that he would have difficulty replacing the vehicle if the single manufacturer runs out of vehicles.

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