New York City Mandate for Hybrid Taxis Draws Lawsuit

With New York City requiring all its taxis to have a city fuel economy rating of at least 25 mpg, we were preparing to say goodbye to ubiquitous yellow Crown Victoria. Not so fast. The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, the city’s largest taxi advocacy group, says the new vehicles do not adequately protect passengers.

This sudden concern for safety might sound a bit out of place to those who have actually ridden in a New York cab, but the MTBOT is serious enough that it is suing the city in federal court to prevent the transition, set to start Oct. 1. The issue, it says, is that the new vehicles, including the Ford Escape Hybrid, are not purpose built taxis. When equipped with partitions, as required in all New York taxis, the cars have very little front and rear legroom, and more worryingly, do not deploy their side airbags properly.

The group also raised doubts about whether hybrids can stand up to the “rigorous demands of New York taxicabs.” In other words (ours), the hybrids might not like being careened through alleyways at 80 mph.