The decision was a pronounced stumble for the city’s Taxi of Tomorrow — the first sprawling redesign since the age of the Checker cab — whose spacious interior, transparent roof panels and “lower-annoyance” horns were to be introduced later this year.
But Justice Peter H. Moulton ruled that the city’s administrative code doomed the existing Taxi of Tomorrow rules, which require all but a few exempted owners to buy the cab. According to the code, the city “shall approve one or more hybrid electric vehicle models for use” and any approved model “shall be eligible for immediate use” by all owners.
The Taxi of Tomorrow, a Nissan NV200, is not a hybrid.
The city’s violation of the code “has been all but conceded,” Justice Moulton wrote. City officials did not challenge the judge’s interpretation.
The decision did appear to leave open the possibility that an amendment could allow the Taxi of Tomorrow to go forward. The Taxi and Limousine Commission had already planned to vote on a proposed rule allowing owners to buy hybrids instead of the NV200, provided the hybrids were the same size.
A vote on the proposal that was scheduled to be held on Thursday was called off. But David S. Yassky, the city’s taxi commissioner, predicted that the ruling would not delay the Taxi of Tomorrow’s introduction.
But plaintiffs against the city, including the Greater New York Taxi Association and the Committee for Taxi Safety, which represent groups of medallion owners, have said that the proposed rule would still ban hybrid use by allowing only the largest, most expensive models.
Ethan Gerber, executive director for the Greater New York Taxi Association, suggested that if passed, the amendment would violate court orders. “You can’t amend something that doesn’t exist,” he said.