Posted by Leonard Steinberg on November 15th,2013

About 200 more cabs will hit the New York streets after an auction yesterday for new medallions, the first since 2008. Bidders, restricted to medallions for wheelchair-accessible vehicles, offered as much as $1.26 million for a single placard, which permits the holder to operate one of the city’s 13,000 yellow cabs. Its the first auction of several to add up to 2,000 new cabs to the streets over the next few years (adding $ 1billion to city tax coffers).

Pricing surprised all who were certain that by adding more cabs, the values of the medallions would drop. The rising values are also influenced by factors including credit-card use boosting gross revenues for cabbies and fleets, and the use of smartphone apps to connect riders to drivers. Both changes came at the Bloomberg administration’s urging.

Now if only these cabs could install credit card machines that actually work: often the wait is ridiculous. Fixing those annoying TV screens to allow you to turn them silent easier is another gripe. Cleaning these cabs consistently with some air-freshener wouldn’t hurt either. It is critical that we get consistency in the cabs: the fight over which vehicle is to be used is absurd. The variation in quality in cabs is a joke……many are so tight at the back they slice off the tips of your shoes.  We should all INSIST on the Taxi-of-tomorrow: From the passenger’s point of view (yes, we who pay for the rides!) the modified Nissan van has sliding doors on both sides for easy access and a flat floor for better legroom, seating for four, including three in the surprisingly roomy rear seat, where passengers can view the skyline through a panoramic sunroof,  a GPS system to prevent unexpected detours, etc. A judge ruled in October to halt the program after vocal opposition from politicians, especially Ethan Gerber, executive director of the Greater New York Taxi Association, which represents fleet owners. He claimed the cars being proposed were no good, mostly because they were not wheelchair accessible and not hybrid……yet one has to wonder if his primary concern was the loss of advertising dollars generated by the roof signage which would be lost due to that pesky moonroof……

As much as I am tempted to use a car and driver, the sight of all these chauffeur driven vehicles idling for hours on end in front of buildings is vile to me: we should have a super-efficient, super-clean fleet of cabs. Its better for the environment, its much more efficient in easing congestion and most times its faster.

Maybe a diesel hybrid (or electric version) is the perfect solution ….and maybe scrap that wonderful moonroof or place it at the rear with advertising in the front: I mean, why should the needs of the consumer be the priority? If we cannot agree on a single car or model, then at least the City should set specific standards for: comfort/dimensions, fuel efficiency, noise, cleanliness, tech and accessibility.