Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Introducing the Taxi of Tomorrow (maybe)

The City of New York has decided to introduce a "Taxi of Tomorrow" that will become the standard cab for the next ten years. The are running a design competition that three car makers have entered. Those three are Ford, Nissan and Turkish upstart Karsan.

Karsan is leading the race. It was chosen as a favorite by respondents to a city survey, and it is fully wheelchair accessible. Accessibility is good. Karsan produced a video to help sell their design to the public.

Nissan is only sort of accessible. Picking up a wheelchair passenger requires the back seat to be folded up. So, only one addition passenger can ride with the wheelchair. No sense in that. Nissan's entry is also a hybrid. Fuel efficiency is good. Nissan didn't bother producing a video, but I found one that sort of shows what they're offering.

Ford fails. Their entry is neither accessible or a hybrid. And, it's ugly. They didn't make a video either. Ford is not good. Though, the fleet owners like Ford cause they are the cheapest, and likely the cheapest to maintain. Fleet owners are millionaires. Fuck 'em. Drivers and the riding public are more important.

My favorite is Karsan. It's accessible, it's fuel efficient, it's cute, cute, cute. Cute is good. I do have one major problem with the design, which I reckon can be fixed with a few design tweaks. I estimate that 80% of my passengers do not wear seatbelts (that's a rough, yanked-out-of-my-ass-guessstimate), so I can imagine passengers flying forward and getting injured if I stop quick. I make emergency stops everyday. This is New York traffic. The second problem is the location of the TV screen. They are touch screens that are also used to process credit card transactions. Grandma isn't going to want to kneel on the floor trying to figure out how to use a damn touchscreen. That will be a big problem. My genius solution is to place a second jump seat where the wheelchair cubby is and move the TV screen between the jumpseats. The second jumpseat can be made foldable and stow-awayable so it can be easily moved to make room for wheelchairs. Easy to fix. Get cracking Karsan.

Being a realist, I predict that Ford will win the race. Fleet owners will sue, money will change hands, a back room deal will be made, wheelchair passengers will be shit out of luck, and drivers will keep paying high gas prices to fill inefficient vehicles.

via Gothamist

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