NY Taxis: High time for a redesign

#Ford, #Ford

Checker Cabs have been gone for years, and the clapped-out Chevy Caprices and Ford Crown Victorias that have taken their place are, on the whole, disgusting.

I ran into the folks from the Design Trust at last spring's NY Auto Show. They've been promoting the idea that New York City taxicabs are woefully inappropriate for that crowded city, and who would disagree? Checker Cabs have been gone for years, and the clapped-out Chevy Caprices and Ford Crown Victorias that have taken their place are, on the whole, disgusting, with aftermarket vinyl seats, virtually no legroom or knee room, and the filth of the tens of thousands of passengers who have come before you still sticking to every surface.

So, I was excited to see this idea from Antenna Design, which the Design Trust people forwarded in a press release. It wouldn't fix the inherent problems with Crown Vic taxicabs, but at least it would make them easier to hail:

"Deciphering the rooflight is a basic test of city savvy: As visitors to NYC soon discover, there is no easy way to tell if a cab is available.; Antenna Design has developed a new rooflight concept that is both cool looking AND easy to understand, featuring; a literal description of the taxi's status rendered highly visible through LED technology.;

Antenna's design will be unveiled at the Taxi 07 Exhibit in April 2007. The Taxi 07 Exhibit, sponsored by Standard Vehicles, will take place during the NY International Auto Show at the Jacob Javis Convention Center, April 6-15, 2007. Taxi prototypes and other taxi innovations (like a smart technology taxi stand) will be displayed on a "street" that the Design Trust will construct on Javits' inner roadway.;

Improving the legibility of the taxi rooflight was just one of many suggestions made by city residents who responded to our recent Taxi 07 Survey."

I remember back in the mid-90s, there was a brief movement to introduce a vehicle to the NYC taxi fleets that made a lot of sense: the first-generation Honda Odyssey minivan, plus its Isuzu twin (whose name escapes *** You still see a few of them trundling through city streets. It makes such a good taxi: passengers sit up high, with plenty of legroom, kneeroom, and elbow room, ingress/egress is easy, and there's plenty of room for luggage in the rear. I think they also used a few Ford Explorers, which weren't nearly as sensible but would still be better to ride in than a cramped Crown Vic.

This one's a no-brainer. My wife, kids and I live just across the Hudson. When we go to the museums, it's cheaper to hop a cab at outside Penn Station and blast up Sixth or down Seventh whichever museum we want.The easiest way to get kids to a museum is with their friends. So it's usually six of us who go. Six people don't fit in a Crown Vic, unless one is driving. So we always get one of the Toyota minivans. Ingress/egress are easier. There is room for everyone, and even if we had some luggage, that would work too.You might think I'm biased towards minivans, being a parent. Nothing could be further from the truth. For most people, a minivan or SUV is really a signal to me that they own too much crap and want to take it with them. We don't have a minivan. From my perspective, the design question has been answered. Yes, the Toyota Minivan isn't completely perfect for the job of "NYC Taxicab," but if one were to design and manufacture a vehicle which was to be used mainly as a taxicab, the low production
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