Plan to update city taxi fleet nixed by judge

The Taxi of Tomorrow is a no go. The Taxi of Tomorrow is a no go. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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A State Supreme Court judge Tuesday struck down the mayor's plans to update the city's taxi fleet with fancy Nissan minivans equipped with 21st century technology, a panoramic see-through roof and indoor lights.

Judge Shlomo S. Hagler sided with the Greater New York Taxi Association -- a group of medallion owners who sued the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission -- saying the agency overstepped its authority when it mandated that the majority of the fleet be replaced with the "Taxi of Tomorrow."

"Simply stated, the power to contract and compel medallion owners to purchase the Nissan NV200 from Nissan for ten years does not exist in the City Charter," he wrote in his 13-page decision.

Hagler's ruling is another legal blow to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who lost his appeal for his proposed ban on oversized sugary drinks in July. A month later, another judge sided with plaintiffs who sued the city over the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy and said the tactic racially discriminated against victims. The city has appealed both cases.

The new taxis, which were chosen from several designs in a contest, were supposed to hit the streets at the end of the month and included state-of-the-art touch screens and panoramic glass roofs.

The cars, however, were not hybrid or electric powered and the taxi association complained that the city didn't give them an option to buy environmentally friendly vehicles.

"Indeed, the City and the Taxi and Limousine Commission had overreached in its authority when it maneuvered to approve this outside of the legal city authorization routes," the commission's executive director Ethan Gerber said in a statement.

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In a statement, Michael A. Cardozo, the city's corporation counsel, said he would appeal the decision, which he called "fundamentally wrong."

"It was well within the TLC's authority to authorize the Taxi of Tomorrow," he said in a statement.

The head of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, the taxi workers union, however, called the decision a win for special interests, since the taxis would lower the costs for the drivers.

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