The Taxi and Limousine Commission voted 7-1 to approve new rules for the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow, a Nissan minivan that is to become the mandatory vehicle for most cab medallion owners when it makes its debut this October.
But opponents of the forced switch said they expected to block the Taxi of Tomorrow again.
"You would think the city won the lawsuit," said David Pollack, executive director of the Committee for Taxi Safety, a group of leasing agents who manage more than 2,000 of the yellow cab medallions.
Mr. Pollack's group won their lawsuit in May against the Taxi of Tomorrow on the grounds that the shift to the gasoline-powered van would violate a city law requiring that TLC approve at least one hybrid vehicle for use as a taxi in the city.
TLC Chairman David Yassky said the new version of the rules approved on Thursday would satisfy that court ruling. The rules permit medallion owners to use hybrids meeting new minimum-space requirements, including that they contain at least 130 cubic feet of space for passengers., until a hybrid version of the Nissan taxi is available. Those limits would permit the use of at least three available hybrids, Mr. Yassky said.
The dispute over hybrids is only the latest front in a long contest between Mr. Yassky and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who have tried to engineer sweeping change in the taxi industry, and the medallion owners and fleets, who resist being ordered to make such changes.
After the vote, Mr. Pollack said he expected his group would file new litigation contesting the rules.
It would likely be joined by another opponent of the new vehicle, the Greater New York Taxi Association, which represents medallion owners.
At Thursday's commission hearing, the deeply divergent responses to the Taxi of Tomorrow plan were on vivid display.
Mr. Pollack denounced the process as a "sham."
A coalition of supporters of the plan—from physicians who lauded its safety features to the Global Gateway Alliance, which lobbies for improvements at New York-area airports—embraced the vehicle.
Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, which typically argues for bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly policies, noted that it was a rare instance in which his group was joining the AAA to support the same policy.
At one point, Mr. Yassky urged attendees to look at a prototype of the new Nissan NV-200, which was parked across Beaver Street from the front of the TLC's offices.
"Is there an accessible one outside?" called out Jean Ryan, an advocate for the disabled whose group has sued over the Nissan because its standard version isn't accessible for wheelchairs. (The vehicle is designed to be more readily converted for a wheelchair than current cabs, the TLC says.)
When Mr. Yassky answered in the negative, Ms. Ryan, who uses a wheelchair, shot back, "Naturally."
Also packing the room were members of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, who were to urge the TLC not to roll back some of the fee changes it instituted last year to allow drivers better take-home pay.
The commission ultimately voted to approve the rollback, which was negotiated by Mr. Yassky to settle a lawsuit by a group of taxi-fleet owners.
Mr. Yassky said the TLC negotiated the changes, which included lowering penalties for fleet operators, adding new responsibility for negligence on the part of drivers, because the TLC was likely to lose the lawsuit.
Roughly "three-quarters of a loaf" remained from the initial package of benefits for drivers, Mr. Yassky said.
"I just think that this is wrong," said Iris Weinshall, a commission member and former city transportation commissioner.
The vote to roll back the benefits drew shouts of protest from drivers.
They eventually moved out to the hallway, and then down to the street, where they briefly assembled, chanting "Shame."