JANUARY 2009

Judge puts brakes on hybrid taxi mandate

A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction against the City of New York’s hybrid taxi mandate, which was to take effect November 1st. Judge Paul A. Crotty of the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs which include the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade (MTBOT), the country’s largest taxi trade association.

The decision reads as follows:

“The Court finds that Plaintiffs have standing to bring this action; that they will be irreparably harmed; and that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the issue of preemption. The City’s counterarguments are unconvincing. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction is GRANTED.”

In its lawsuit, MTBOT had cited a 2008 engineer’s report that concluded that hybrid taxicabs were unsafe and unfit for taxi use. The group also cited the refusal of any hybrid automaker to certify the crashworthiness of their hybrids when outfitted with mandatory partitions or when used in 24/7 commercial taxi operation.

Ron Sherman, president of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade said, “For MTBOT and so many others, this has never been about whether or not the taxi industry should be embracing a greener, more fuel-efficient fleet. This is about safety and common sense. We have been actively working with the auto industry and City to bring a safe, comfortable, fuel-efficient taxicab to the market. And while we’re pleased that these ‘taxi’s of tomorrow’ may be available as early as this summer, the much smaller, non-commercial passenger hybrids available for purchase today are unsafe when outfitted with hard, bullet-proof partitions and unfit for 24/7 taxi service.”

MTBOT is the country’s largest taxi fleet association. It represents 27 yellow medallion taxi fleets in New York City that comprise over 3,500 medallion taxicabs – approximately 25 percent of the taxi industry.