What’s next? “T Driver,” starring Robert De Niro?

Not likely, even though the new logotype for medallion taxis, which is beginning to appear on New York streets, has eliminated the word “taxi” in favor of a bold yellow T in a black circle; an enlarged version of the symbol first adopted five years ago.

David S. Yassky, the chairman of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, sounded confident on Tuesday that the change wouldn’t confound anyone. “We have no doubt that a yellow car with a roof light with a big T will be understood as a New York City taxicab,” he said. “Even the greenest of greenhorns will know that it’s a taxicab.”

The streamlined design also eliminates the fare panel on the passenger door, which Mr. Yassky said was a cluttered vestige of earlier days. (It is unclear how many passengers, while opening that door, ever had the opportunity to pause and fully absorb the information: “$3.00 initial fare + $0.40 per 1/5 mile & minute stopped or slow, $1.00 Monday-Friday, 4 – 8 p.m., $0.50 nights, 8 p.m. – 6 a.m. $45 flat fare between Manhattan & JFK.”)

All that information can be placed more usefully on the video screen inside the cab, Mr. Yassky said. What the prospective passenger needs to know from the outside is that the fare is metered — in other words, make sure the meter is on once you climb in, unless you’re going to Kennedy International Airport, in which case it would be a flat fare.

The new logo emerged from work being done on the “Taxi of Tomorrow” Nissan prototype with the firm Smart Design, which was (somewhat) responsible for the current logo.

Specifications for the new pared-down design call for eliminating the trailing stream of checkerboard shapes that were intended as a reference to the celebrated Checker cab of yesteryear. In this, Mr. Yassky confessed ambivalence.

“Call us old-timers, but I liked the historical reference,” he said. “However, the design professionals felt unanimously that the clutter didn’t justify whatever meaning was in there.” (Not to worry, Mr. Yassky. City Room spotted six cabs with new decals in the space of a half-hour on Tuesday. Two still had checkerboards.)

The new design is a vindication of the work done five years ago by Davin Stowell and his colleagues at Smart Design. They proposed a large T, unmodified by “axi.” At the time, Mr. Stowell said: “Everybody knows what it is. You don’t need the words.”

But officials grew apprehensive when they realized that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority intended eventually to run a T train on Second Avenue. Mr. Stowell was overruled. (For the record, the T train will have a teal color scheme.)

Today, Mr. Yassky said, a T in a circle is widely understood to mean taxi.

“Nobody will confuse a yellow car with a 75-foot-long train car that runs underground,” he said. “And we like the echo that ties taxis to the rest of the transportation system.”

By DAVID W. DUNLAP

Category: Blog, New York City

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