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Yellow Cab, Dollar Cab…Unicab?
The Unicab may be New York City's "Taxi of Tomorrow"

The Unicab is designed for sharing, with green lights indicating the cab's destination, and red lights indicating how many seats are available. Photo via thetaxioftomorrow.com

Since 2008, the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) has been seeking the “Taxi of Tomorrow.” The Big Apple is looking for ideas on how to upgrade its existing taxi fleet to “more appropriately reflect the needs of its diverse stakeholders – passengers, drivers, owners and NYC residents.”The official request-for-proposals (RFP), which closed on May 27, listed the following desired qualities for the taxi of tomorrow:

• Highest safety standards
• Superior passenger experience
• Superior driver comfort and amenities
• Appropriate purchase price and on-going maintenance and repair costs
• Sustainability (minimized environmental impact throughout the vehicle’s life cycle)
• Minimal physical footprint (with more useable interior room)
• Universal accessibility for all users with a goal of meeting ADA guidelines
(wheelchair accessible)
• Iconic design that will identify the new taxi with New York City

The Unicab, one of the submitted proposals, hasn’t been picked yet, but it’s certainly getting a lot of attention for its sleek design – which shares only the iconic yellow color with today’s yellow cabs – and its innovative eco-friendly technology.

The Unicab, a four-seater with a light strong steel body,  is designed as a fully electric vehicle but also has solar panels on the roof for additional energy, along with brake energy conversion, hydrogen fuel cells, and plug-in recharging. In addition, passengers would benefit from a built-in infotainment unit and a large luggage compartment. The cab’s wheelchair ramp would also make NYC much more accessible, and its giant windows would give all passengers a great view of New York’s vibrant street scenes.

Photo via thetaxioftomorrow.com

Photo via thetaxioftomorrow.com

⇑CabShare = ⇓CabFare

The more you share, the less your fare. Unicab designers have embraced cab sharing to make their cab not only easier on the environment but also on passenger’s pocketbooks. The Unicab features embedded “digital message visors”: green lights show where the cab is going (i.e. Soho), and red lights show the number of seats available. So Unicab would move more people in less time, reduce congestion, and lower air, noise and visual pollution in New York’s streets. It’s another way to make carsharing cool.

The TLC has not yet set a date to pick its Taxi of Tomorrow. So perhaps there’s still time for media mogul Jay-Z to throw in his support: If Yellow Cab can get a “holla back” in his “Empire State of Mind” record, why not Unicab?

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  • Interesting. Besides government subsidies, are there any other solutions to making the taxi industry more competitive and affordable? I imagine one of the highest costs of cab driving is fuel; and another would be idling in traffic, waiting to pick up the next passenger. So perhaps one solution would be to limit as many roads as possible to commercial vehicles only, so they don’t have to sit in traffic with other cars blocking their way.

  • This Unicab is never going to make it to the market. Although, it might in countries where a government would subsidize it (like China?)

    The car and the maintenance have to be very cheap. That’s why most places use ex-police cars as taxis.

    Cab business is a miserable hustle and most places have too many cabs. Cab drivers don’t make much money. The expense for this Unicab would break any cab operator.

    This thing will always be just a concept.

    Thanks.

  • Can we get these in DC please? RT: @TheCityFix: NYC wants to upgrade its taxi fleet. Yellow Cab, Dollar Cab…Unicab? http://bit.ly/9WmBDw

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter