Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments
Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule
On September 20, 2012, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (the
“TLC”) approved rules to implement the new Official Taxicab Vehicle which is anticipated to go into service in late 2013. When the Official Taxicab Vehicle goes into service, owners of unrestricted Taxicab Medallions can hack up an Official Taxicab Vehicle or an Accessible Official Taxicab Vehicle. These rules were a culmination of a lengthy process to improve taxicab design and performance.
In 2007, the City issued a Request for Information (RFI) and convened a Taxi of Tomorrow Advisory Committee (including taxi drivers, passengers, medallion owners, advocates for people with disabilities, advocates for the environment, various taxi driver and owner organizations, and designers) to help insure that the new taxicab meets the needs of diverse stakeholders. Thereafter, in 2009, the City issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking an exclusive provider of taxicabs to the medallion taxi industry. It sought a vehicle that offered:
- The highest safety standards
- Superior passenger experience
- Superior driver comfort and amenities
- Appropriate purchase price and on-going maintenance and repair costs
- Minimal environmental impact
- Minimal physical footprint with more useable interior room
- Accessibility for all users
- Iconic design that will identify the taxi with New York City
After reviewing several proposals that had been submitted by a variety of manufacturers, and a year-long detailed evaluation process based on criteria consistent with the above goals, the City selected Nissan North America (Nissan) to be the exclusive taxicab provider for 10 years (with an additional 5-year commitment to provide parts and service).
This proposed rule clarifies that, until an Official Taxicab Vehicle meets the requirements of section 19-533 of the New York City Administrative Code, the owner of an unrestricted Taxicab Medallion can (and the owner of an Alternative Fuel Medallion must) hack up their Medallions with a vehicle, other than the Official Taxicab Vehicle, meeting new specifications for alternative fuel vehicles included in this rulemaking. These new specifications improve comfort for passengers of alternative fuel taxicabs, and apply until such time as the TLC’s Chairperson certifies that a version of the Official Taxicab Vehicle meets the requirement of Administrative Code section 19-533.
To ensure that alternative fuel vehicles can be hacked up as taxicabs while this proposed rule applies, not all of the features required in the Official Taxicab Vehicle will be required in alternative fuel vehicles. The features that will be required for alternative fuel vehicles by the proposed rule to address passenger concerns regarding comfort and compartment size are:
- An increase in the minimum dimensions for interior volume and
- A rear ventilation system with separate fan speed, temperature controls and vents that can be operated by passengers in the rear compartment.
The TLC prioritized these two comfort amenities based on customer survey responses, passenger experience, and input received at a City Council hearing. In a passenger survey conducted by the TLC in 2010, over 66 percent of respondents indicated that more storage room or a larger trunk would be an important improvement. Further highlighting the need for luggage space, over 50 percent of respondents answered that they commonly use taxicabs when they travel or when they have luggage. Twenty-nine percent of passengers surveyed responded that the passenger compartment of taxis is too small or uncomfortable.
The proposed rule also takes into account the needs of passengers who use taxis to get to airports. With over 50 million people visiting New York City last year, many of them use taxicabs as a reliable means of transportation to and from the airports. In 2012, taxis made over 9.6 million total trips to or from the airports. This averages out to over two airport trips per cab each day, making airport trips an integral part of daily taxi operations. Given this, ensuring that a certain amount of luggage space exists in all taxicabs is an important objective for passengers.
Another problem indicated by passengers is interior air quality. In 2012, the TLC received over 100 passenger complaints about air quality, ventilation, odors, or temperature inside the cab. In some cases, the passenger complained that the driver refused to use or adjust the temperature or ventilation. At a City Council hearing on March 5th 2013, Council Member David Greenfield complained about the odor and lack of ventilation in some taxicabs and asked the Commission to address this issue.
The Commission’s authority for this rules change is found in section 2303 of the New York City Charter and section 19-503 of the New York City Administrative Code.
In addition, these rules amend TLC rules governing the leasing of taxicabs or taxicab medallions to reflect the implementation of the Taxi of Tomorrow and will take effect once the Taxi of Tomorrow (ToT) is available (the OTV Activation Date). These changes conform to recently proposed changes for leases for vehicles prior to the OTV Activation Date. The
Commission’s authority to adopt these rules is found in section 2303 of the New York City Charter and section 19-503 of the New York City Administrative Code.