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Appeals court overturns judge's ruling, says New York City's 'Taxi of Tomorrow' plan is legal

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - A plan to remake the New York's yellow cab fleet by requiring owners to purchase Nissan minivans is legal, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The Appellate Division's ruling on the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow overturned a 2013 lower court decision that said New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission had overstepped its authority by requiring taxi owners to buy a specific vehicle.

Writing for the four-judge panel, Judge David B. Saxe called the Taxi of Tomorrow a "legally appropriate response" to the Taxi and Limousine Commission's obligation to produce a modern, standardized fleet.

The city's fleet of yellow cabs has traditionally included a variety of car models modified to serve as cabs. The taxi commission solicited proposals for an exclusive cab design in 2009 and chose the Nissan NV-200 in 2011.

But the Greater New York Taxi Association, an owners' group, said the city was improperly forcing owners to buy a vehicle they didn't want.

Under the plan, cab owners will be required to replace most cabs they retire with the NV-200, which has a suggested retail price of $29,700. Supporters of the cab point to safety features and such amenities as a roomy back seat and a panoramic roof.

A spokesman for the taxi commission said the NV-200's price is comparable to car models currently in use as yellow cabs.

One member of the appeals panel dissented from Tuesday's ruling. Judge Rolando D. Acosta said the commission exceeded its authority "regardless of whether the Taxi of Tomorrow project is rational and consistent" with its objectives.

Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairwoman Meera Joshi said the agency was gratified by the ruling and was reviewing it "especially in view of the potential for further appeal."

The Greater New York Taxi Association did not immediately comment on the appeals court ruling.

The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, an owners' group that was not part of the litigation, said it hopes that Nissan "will not abuse its status as an exclusive taxi" and that the TLC will strive to maintain a competitive market.

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