In the recent
Wired article "Taxicabs 2.0, by and for New Yorkers", a reader comments about the TX4, a spacious, wheelchair accessible, fuel
efficient and reliable vehicle. The reader goes
on to say that it's street
legal in the U.S. and the
only reason we don't have tons of them in NYC already is that the mandatory
retirement rules for NYC cabs make the built-to-last TX4 too expensive for the
short time it can legally be used.
I can't say much about New
York City's mandatory retirement rules for taxis, but there's one huge thing I
can say: The TX4 could kill several birds with one stone, including
helping the MTA out of their budget deficit! The MTA (Metropolitan Transit
Authority), the overseers of New York City's Subways, Busses and a program known
Access-A-Ride is expensive
and generally mismanaged. It uses huge vans which have to be
reserved by persons needing handicapped-accessible rides before 5:00pm
the day before by making a telephone to a special operator.
A co-pay is expected to be paid by the passenger (I think it's the same as
a subway fare of $2.25). There are all sorts of restrictions based on the
individual needs of the Access-A-Ride user and accessibility of the nearby
busses, subway stations and/or handicapped-accessible subway stations.
Generally, most people can use Access-A-Ride for door-to-door service for
inter-borough transit (i.e. Manhattan to the Bronx). To add further complications
to this set-up, Access-A-Ride vans are known to sometimes be hours late for
pick-up or drop-off. Imagine if you were dependant upon
Access-A-Ride to get you to a Doctor's appointment! Quite frustrating and
expensive for the city to operate!
If we were to change a good
percentage of NYC Taxis over to the TX4, this would enable a regular taxi to
chauffer around persons of special needs (pushchairs, wheelchairs, etc.) -- now
take the idea a little further and consider replacing Access-A-Ride with a
voucher system in where anyone with special needs (and on an Access-A-Ride
budget) could use their vouchers to pay for reduced, negotiated fares in regular
taxis whenever they like, on-the-fly!
I'm sure there are a few
bugs in my idea, as I am not an Access-A-Ride user, but I think something like
this would be a win-win for many New Yorkers and for the