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New York court strikes down Bloomberg's 'Taxi of Tomorrow' plan

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New York City Taxi TLC (STOCK)
New York City Taxi TLC (STOCK)

New York's Supreme Court has ruled against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan for a uniform "Taxi of Tomorrow." As The Wall Street Journal reports, judges found that the Taxi and Limousine Commission didn't have the authority to make taxi drivers switch to a specially designed version of Nissan's NV200, which included sliding doors, electronics chargers, and odor-reducing fabric. Had the plan gone unchallenged, taxi fleets would have been required to start replacing retiring cabs with the new Nissans as of October 28th, with the ultimate goal of phasing out nearly all other designs by 2018.

Bloomberg's Taxi of Tomorrow ran into the same problem as his sugary drinks limit

But Judge Shlomo Hagler determined that New York couldn't make all owners purchase the new car. "Simply stated, the power to contract and compel medallion owners to purchase the Nissan NV200 from Nissan for 10 years does not exist in the City Charter," he wrote in a decision. The Taxi of Tomorrow plan also ran into the same problem as Bloomberg's limits on sugary drinks: it was, Hagler decided, an overreach of executive powers. "We are pleased that Judge Hagler has overturned the Mayor's efforts to implement this misguided Taxi of Tomorrow initiative using a single vehicle as the standard," said the Greater New York Taxi Association in a statement. "Having no hybrid option or an accessible version, we believe that the Nissan Van NV200 was inappropriate for people in need of accessible vehicles and those who are concerned with the environment."

With a few weeks left until the policy was set to take effect, the city has little time to appeal the ruling, especially as Bloomberg prepares to step down at the end of this year. It's also only the latest legal challenge to the Taxi of Tomorrow. In mid-May, the Supreme Court took issue with part of the plan, saying that taxi medallion holders must be allowed to purchase hybrid vehicles. While Nissan is working on an electric version of the NV200, the official Taxi of Tomorrow is not a hybrid. That setback reportedly prompted an angry outburst by Bloomberg, who was said to have promised New York Taxi Club Management CEO Evgeny Freidman that he would "destroy [his] fucking industry."