Those of you who follow JapanCulture•NYC on Instagram know that I’m obsessed with Taxi of Tomorrow, the Nissan NV200 van that was awarded an exclusive contract in May 2011 following a contest initiated by former mayor Michael Bloomberg. There was much hype and anticipation. Although the purchase of the sleek and roomy van was supposed to create a uniform fleet in New York City in the fall of last year, a lawsuit filed by the Greater New York Taxi Association put that plan on hold. The suit claimed that the Taxi and Limousine Commission overstepped its bounds by mandating the purchase of a certain type of vehicle. Others complain that the NV200 is neither a hybrid nor wheelchair accessible.
Still, a prototype of Taxi of Tomorrow was on display at the Nissan Gallery in Tokyo last November (Enjoy our video of the Ginza showroom), and a few New York City cab owners bought the $29,700 vehicle.
Finally more were on the road in the city this spring, and I snapped and posted photos of almost every one of them. Riding in one was an elusive dream for a long time; I saw them when I didn’t need them, or they were occupied when I did.
In May I ran into Ghoere, a TOT driver, while he was taking a break and stretching his legs on 9th Avenue in Chelsea. “I love it,” Ghoere said of his new yellow cab. “I love it almost too much.”
Ghoere’s favorite feature is the separation of driver and passenger, which allows the passenger to control the air conditioning without affecting the driver.
Two weeks after chatting with Ghoere, I finally jumped into Eddie’s TOT in Midtown, admitting that I didn’t have far to go, but I just wanted a ride. Eddie was gracious and drove me around the block a few times. He complained that “you feel every bump,” but when he ran over a pothole, it didn’t feel worse than any other brand of cab. Eddie said that each of his customers have “loved the experience,” raving about the legroom most of all.
After a few months of scattered sightings, suddenly there are NV200s almost everywhere. That’s because on June 10 a state appeals court reversed the decision made last October, stating that the plan to make the Taxi of Tomorrow the fleet of New York is legal.
Current mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t happy with that decision, but with about 180 NV200s on the streets of the city, he’ll have to get used to New Yorkers saying “Hail yes” to the Taxi of Tomorrow.