Opponents of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Taxi of Tomorrow project filed suit to block the initiative Wednesday, with just months before the first of the new Nissan‘s are to begin arriving on New York City streets.
The Greater New York Taxi Association and Evgeny “Gene” Freidman, two perennial combatants of Mr. Bloomberg and his taxi plan, filed suit in state court in Manhattan, charging that the plan to force virtually all yellow taxi medallion owners to purchase a single vehicle oversteps the mayor’s authority under the law.
It is only the latest court battle between the association and Mr. Freidman, a medallion owner, and the administration over the Taxi of Tomorrow. Under that program, Mr. Bloomberg and Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky are seeking to have a single, custom-designed taxi vehicle, a Nissan called the NV-200, become the de facto fleet vehicle for the city.
The complainants have won some earlier rounds, including a ruling earlier this summer that found that the TLC’s proposed rules for the Taxi of Tomorrow violated a city law requiring that the TLC authorize at least one hybrid vehicle for use as a taxi at any time.
After that setback, the TLC altered the proposed rules to permit certain, larger hybrid vehicles, but voted to approve the rules, and pushed forward with the taxi project. The first NV-200s are due on the streets in October, the TLC says.
The latest lawsuit comes with a brand new precedent, said Ethan Gerber, the GNYTA’s executive director: the appellate decision this week that upheld a lower court’s ruling that Mr. Bloomberg and his administration overstepped their authority in attempting to limit the size of servings of sugary beverages in the city.
But otherwise, the issues remain the same: Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Yassky say they’ve found a way to custom-design a cab that will work better for riders and drivers in the city, while Mr. Gerber, Mr. Freidman and others say they are being improperly forced to buy a van they don’t want to use.
“All the issues that we had outstanding last time, when we won, are still outstanding,” Mr. Gerber said. “We are still forced to purchase one car for our entire industry, and to give up 99 percent of the hybrids that are on the road.”
“The Appellate Division made very clear yesterday, this is not the function of an administrative agency,” Mr. Gerber said, referring to the soda case. “Just like the Department of Health case, they overstepped their boundaries. The administrative agency’s function is to fill in details. It’s not to set policy.”
The city disagrees.
“This appears to be yet another misguided attempt to deprive New Yorkers of the safest, most comfortable custom-built new taxicab this city has ever seen,” TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said in an email message. “We remain confident that we will be able to successfully defend the Taxi of Tomorrow on behalf of all passengers.”