When Government Mandates a Technology

(p. A20) In 2011, after a lengthy competition among automakers, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that the Nissan NV200 would become the “Taxi of Tomorrow” with most yellow cab owners required to purchase the boxy, bright yellow van. Eventually, the vehicle was expected to make up 80 percent of New York City’s fleet of over 13,000 cabs.
At the time, city officials touted the NV200’s increased leg room, USB charging ports and sunroof as amenities that would be attractive to riders who had long complained about cramped travel in less than spotless back seats.
But it turns out that tomorrow lasted only seven years.
Last week, the Taxi and Limousine Commission reversed the requirement, expanding the option for drivers beyond the Nissan NV200 to a smorgasbord of over 30 vehicles, including popular, fuel efficient models like the Toyota Camry.
. . .
. . . there are drivers like Sergio Cabrera, 60, who owns his vehicle and the expensive medallion needed to have it on the road, who said the NV200 has given him many headaches.
. . .
“There hasn’t been a worse car for the taxi industry than the NV200,” he said. “It’s not easy for older people to get into. Mechanically it’s one of the worst made cars I’ve ever owned.”
Mr. Cabrera complained that owning the Nissan has been expensive, in part because of regulations that he and other yellow cabdrivers say subjects them to more maintenance rules than drivers for ridesharing apps.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission requires yellow taxis to undergo a 200-point inspection every four months. Each time his Nissan has been inspected, Mr. Cabrera said he has had to shell out at least $1,500 in repairs in order to pass.

For the full story, see:
Tyler Blint-Welsh. “Time Is Up for ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’.” The New York Times (Wednesday, June 13, 2018): A20.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 12, 2018, and has the title “It Was Billed as the ‘Taxi of Tomorrow.’ Tomorrow Didn’t Last Long.”)

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