John Liu, the comptroller for the City of New York, does not have nice words for the mini-minivan that's poised to become the city's primary taxi cab. No, he's not a Jalopnik reader who's pissed that the Nissan NV200 van is going to replace the iconic, rough-and-tumble Ford Crown Victoria. (At least, we don't think so.)
Apparently Liu is pissed because the NV200 doesn't have ramps for wheelchair access, reports the New York Post. As such, Liu has said he will reject the contract for Nissan to make the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow.
The thing is, Liu's move is a pointless one. Mayor Mike Bloomberg isn't bound by Liu's decision and has the power to reject it, which is exactly what will happen, sources told the Post. So get used to seeing the NV200 around town, New Yorkers, because Bloomberg says it's a go.
But here's the bigger issue as we see it: how did the NV200 get this far into the process if it really doesn't have access for the disabled? That seems like a pretty glaring oversight, doesn't it?
Apparently the cabs can be retrofitted for wheelchair access, but not in a way that disability advocates say is adequate. You have to enter it from the back, which means putting your wheelchair on the street, and that doesn't sound very safe in a busy city like New York.
New York has defended their decision to use the NV200 and say they will have other workarounds for disabled folks. From the New York Times:
In an interview in September, after the taxi commission approved a set of standards governing the vehicle, David S. Yassky, the commission's chairman, defended the city's efforts to provide taxi accessibility. He noted that the commission had introduced a dispatch system allowing wheelchair users to arrange a ride in one of the city's roughly 230 wheelchair-accessible taxis.
He also said that Nissan was "the most fuel-efficient car of any of the vehicles submitted in our design competition."
And the city is working to add another 2,000 other wheelchair-friendly taxis to their fleet as well.
But two groups of cab owners have filed lawsuits against the city trying to keep the NV200 from being rolled for this issue, the Post says. This is a problem that's probably not going away soon.
Photo credit Nissan