New York City recently announced the three final taxi designs duking it out for a winner-take-all cage match to receive an exclusive contract for the next decade’s worth of sales and service in the city. Currently served by Ford, the ironically named TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission) opened up proposals in 2009 for exclusive rights to the “taxi of tomorrow.” Is there such a thing?
When you think about it, taxis transcend pleather seats and those mystery serums left from the previous night’s backseat shenanigans. Phil Patton of the Design Trust for Public Space notes, they’re as iconic as it gets:
The taxicab is a symbol of New York to millions of tourists. It marks arrival and departure—the modern equivalent of a city gate. It is the space of entrance to the city. It frames the visitor’s first glances. As much as by Big Ben, London is symbolized by its red double-decker busses, its red phone booths —and its black taxis. Just as much as it is represented by its piers or subways, by the same token, New York is symbolized by its taxis.
Well put, Phil. However, pictures of the three finalists chosen scream more Three Stooges to me than iconic figures gracefully navigating the New York streets. To sum it all up for you, there is the Jetson’s grocery getter, the euro, and the suburban nanny. None of which have any NYC iconic-ness about them.
Here’s my suggestion: Throwbacks — and not any of this weak-effort, modern-looking versions of the classic autos. I’m talking about getting the “taxi of tomorrow’s” efficient engine, conveniences, headroom, and whatever else is deemed ideal for this project (cup holders, I suppose?), and then wrap that neat little package with a bucket-load of iconic.
My point can be found in Veradero, Cuba, in the picture above. Tell me that 14,000 of these beauties running the streets of NYC wouldn’t make a statement.
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