New York City has been having a long-running competition for a new cab design and will announce results in about a month. The Times did a big piece recently on the Ford Transit Connect, which is one of three options in the running, so we know which one they’re endorsing.
We reported a while back on the Transit Connect Electric, and it has had some success in fleets. If chosen for New York, it would be initially gas powered. The city lost its Supreme Court battle to enforce hybrids-only for its new taxis, at least for now, but one-third of the present taxi fleet (4,300 yellow cabs) is hybrid.
The other two designs in the running are: the Karsan V1 (above), built in Turkey, featuring a glass roof and wheelchair accessibility, and the Nissan NV200, built in Canton, Miss., and adapted from a commercial van. All three have lots of headroom, legroom and luggage space. Any would be an improvement over what is on the streets now.
I just got back from New York after a two-year absence and rode in three different kinds of cab there. Each is pretty common, and each has its boosters, though the Ford Crown Victoria is dominant. Some interesting statistics and history can be found on the city’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” website. New York voters (66 percent) on the site liked the Karsan design best.
You climb into a Crown Vic, and it’s like a womb. This is a big, sturdy car with a large trunk, but it still feels cramped inside. The Ford Escape Hybrid has even less legroom, and you are jammed up against the driver’s partition. The Toyota Sienna has the most room inside, and the sliding doors are great for easy entry and exit.
My driver didn’t like that car, however, and went into a diatribe about how the city was dictating what its cab owners must put on the street. Welcome to New York.
Whichever of the new vans is chosen will give passengers more room, better access, and better views—but there will still and forever be those who complain. Namely, one NYC taxi driver, commenting on the Times video on driving the Transit Connect:
I drive a yellow cab in NYC, and although I haven’t yet driven this thing, It seems OK. My only gripe—rear windows don’t open, and this can be a BIG problem when a waisted yuppie or a high on coke Wall st. scum decides to puke. I drive a night shift, and these pleasant moments happen to me about once a week. In a Crown Vic, at least I can scream at them to stick their heads out the window, so that the only thing I have to clean is my rear fender….
There must be a lot of vomiting in cabs in New York. Talking about the Karsan design back in November, New York Magazine commented about its rear-facing seat:
On the one hand, it would make taxi rides more social by sparing one passenger from lonely exile in the front seat. On the other hand, in this new configuration, he or she may throw up on everybody. So it’s kind of a wash.
Would you sit in the rear-facing seat? What if you were drunk?
Well, would you sit in a rear-facing seat in a cab? Why, or why not?