| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Oct 8 New York City's plan to create a
uniform taxi fleet was struck down by a judge on Tuesday, only
weeks before Nissan Motor Co Ltd was due to start
supplying new taxis under an exclusive contract.
The "Taxi of Tomorrow" initiative, which was to go into
effect Oct. 28, would have required every new taxi to be a
Nissan NV200. Nissan was given a contract worth an estimated $1
billion in 2011 after a competition.
Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler ruled
that the Taxi and Limousine Commission had overstepped its
authority. In part, he relied on the same legal argument that
doomed Mayor Michael Bloomberg's effort to ban large sugary
drinks from city eateries, saying the commission had infringed
upon the City Council's powers.
"The notion that New York City should have one exclusive
'iconic' New York City taxicab is a policy decision that is
reserved for the City Council," he wrote.
The city's chief lawyer, Michael Cardozo, said in a
statement, "We believe the Court's decision is fundamentally
wrong, and we intend to appeal immediately."
When the 10-year contract was awarded, Nissan officials said
they expected to provide as many as 26,000 vehicles to the
city's taxi fleet over the deal's lifetime.
Travis Parman, a Nissan spokesman, said the company was
considering its options, but it would still sell the vehicle to
interested fleet owners.
"We are disappointed in the court's decision, but it will
not prevent our plan to start upgrading the NYC taxi fleet with
the Nissan Taxi of Tomorrow at the end of the month," he said.
The ruling was the second time a state judge has blocked the
plan, after Justice Peter Moulton in Manhattan ruled in May that
the initiative failed to comply with city regulations allowing
taxi operators to buy hybrid vehicles.
The taxi commission then revised the plan to permit hybrid
models until Nissan provides a hybrid version of the NV200.
The lawsuit was brought by Evgeny Freidman, a major city
fleet operator, and the Greater New York Taxi Association, who
claimed the commission did not have the power to force taxi
operators to purchase a particular vehicle.