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New York City prepares for a taxi over-haul

New York City taxis

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: New York City's yellow cabs are as much of an icon as the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. But there are actually 16 different car models riding the city streets.

Now the city wants a uniform fleet, and it's looking for the Taxi of Tomorrow.

Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports.


ALISA ROTH: New York City taxi cabs drive roughly 70,000 miles a year.

DAVID YASSKY: We believe if a taxi cab can make it here, it can make it anywhere.

David Yassky is in change of the Taxi and Limousine commission. We talked in the back of a cab, which might explain why he made a point about the size of the new taxis.

YASSKY: The goal is to have a car that is comfortable for both the passenger and the driver, that's spacious, that's also fuel efficient, and accessible for all New Yorkers, including people with disabilities.

This is the first time New York will have taxis that are designed for the job. And it's also the first time all the taxis will be the same model.

The three finalists are made by Ford, Nissan and a Turkish company called Karsan. They're all variations on a mini van-theme. The Nissan's a pretty standard mini van. The Ford is a version of it's European delivery van. The Karsan is futuristic, like an elongated Smartcar.

Tim Gross was hailing a cab in front of Grand Central Station. He looked at photos of the three candidates and said he liked the Ford and the Nissan best, but more than styling, what he wants in a new taxi is --

TIM GROSS: Cleanliness, and I don't know, just being comfortable as well.

Not to mention being there when you need one.

The city will choose the winner early next year and the new taxis will be phased in over the next five years.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth, for Marketplace.

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