October 2012 (En español)
A lot has transpired since we last spoke, but I really wanted to touch on just a few items in this space and leave you wanting more!
Let’s start with the Taxi of Tomorrow. I am pleased to report that the TLC’s Board of Commissioners has approved the Nissan NV200 as New York City’s custom-made taxicab vehicle of choice. Of course, most of the media coverage has been about the many amenities and benefits it offers the riding public, but here in this space, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the things it offers the men and women who will be driving this purpose-built gem. First and foremost, this will be the safest taxicab ever built…..words that I do not take lightly! For the very first time in the history of the New York City taxicab, the vehicle will be crash-tested by its manufacturer WITH the partition and taxi equipment already installed, which is a great improvement over the situation we have today. It’s also true that the airbags will be positioned to deploy around the partition for the very first time…..why? Because it was designed that way from the ground up!
On the comfort side, the good news is that drivers will be able to adjust their seats for the first time in the NV200….again, because it was designed with that very simple need in mind. That very adjustable seat will also be made of a breathable material that will allow drivers to sweat less, and in greater comfort. Another comfort feature is the ride itself. The vehicle will ride like a dream because it’s been extensively tested on simulated New York City street under very real circumstances. Drivers will also appreciate the fact that much thought has also gone into how the equipment they use every day is ergonomically placed for maximum convenience and efficiency.
And yes, it’s fuel efficient! So much so, that the fleet-wide average fuel efficiency will rise from the current 24mpg – even with all the hybrids now on the road – to 28mpg once the Taxi of Tomorrow is fully deployed. We’re also very excited about the potential we’ll be exploring with Nissan for a fully electric taxicab fleet in the not-so-distant future.
Of course, we should not totally discount the reasons why passengers will love the cab…..significantly greater leg room, a separate environmental controls, a clear, panoramic roof, reading lights, charging ports, anti-bacterial seats, a flat floor, ergonomically-located grab handles, an easy-open door….and on and on! Fact is, a comfortable, happy and safe passenger is a generous passenger.
Anyway, there will be much more information to come as we get closer to the NV200 roll-out in the fall of 2013, but I did want to share the good news with you all that the Taxi of Tomorrow is just a little bit closer to today, thanks to the TLC’s vote this week.
I would also like to mention that, with great fanfare, we have launched the TLC’s Wheelchair Accessible Dispatch Program, that will pair wheelchair users with accessible taxicabs simply by their calling 311, calling the dispatch center directly at 646-599-9999, visiting the www.NYCaccessibledispatch.org web site, texting a request to 646-400-0789, or using the mobile app “Wheels on Wheels” available free at the iTunes online app store. It is by far the most significant step taken to enhance the availability of taxicabs for wheelchair users, and it is open and ready for business! Best of all, I’d like to highlight the fact that is something we did very much in partnership with the taxicab industry….a trend that I’d like to see continue.
I’d also like to mention that we’ll be rolling out a new sticker for voluntary placement on the inside of rear passenger windows of taxicabs (see below) that will remind riders to look for cyclists before exiting the vehicle. The stickers were designed in conjunction with our friends at the NYC Department of Transportation and are very similar to the symbols you’ll see on the streets to remind pedestrians to look before crossing.
It’s great advice, and we’re both hopeful and confident that drivers will embrace the decals for the good of their passengers, as well as for the safety of cyclists with whom they share the road. We’ll be announcing where drivers/owners can get the stickers shortly, so visit the TLC’s web site often at www.nyc.gov/taxi for updates on that and other important things.
Last but not least, this is my first column since the average 17% fare increase granted by the Taxi and Limousine Commission went into effect on September 4. I want to leave you with a wish that this increase has made life somewhat easier and more comfortable for the hardworking men and women who drive our city’s taxicabs, because that’s precisely why we did it.
Until next time, take care and be well!
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