Accessible Taxis


Moving More People, Making Less Impact

The greening of the world's mass transit systems calls for
innovative thinking, public regulation and private funding

by Douglas MacMillan

The venerable yellow cab, once a symbol of cosmopolitan
efficiency, has come to represent all that is wrong with transit
in congested urban centers like New York City. "We can't afford to
have 13,000 gas guzzlers," says Deborah Marton, executive director
of the Design Trust for Public Space, a nonprofit taking strides
to bring sustainability and accessibility to taxi design in New
York and abroad (see, 10/28/05, "A Taxi for the
Next Hundred Years").

The Design Trust's Taxi '07 exhibit at this year's New York
International Auto Show gave visitors the chance to see taxis they
might hail in the not-too-distant future. Participating companies
displayed taxi prototypes addressing at least 5 out of 10 design
challenges, such as incorporating hybrid or alternate-fuel
engines, wheelchair accessibility, a driver partition, a skylight,
and integral child seats.

While some entrants put a new spin on an existing vehicle such as
Chrysler's (DCX) PT Cruiser with a lithium battery and Kia's
(KIMTF) Rondo with enhanced safety lightinglesser-known Troy
(Mich.)-based Vehicle Production Group fielded its Standard Taxi,
a boxy vehicle measuring more than six feet in height.

It allows for wheelchair access, seats up to four passengers, and
has a smaller footprint than most cabs along with an engine that
gets as much as 20 miles per gallon.
The cab will cost about
$25,000, nearly the same as the old standby for cabs, Ford's (F)
Crown Victoria.

The Standard Taxi goes into production in 2008, and the company
expects to sell as many as 5,000 in the U.S. and in Canada in the
first year alone.


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