NEW YORK (CBS New York) — The yellow cab industry in New York could look very different in the future.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission is proposing a pilot program to make way for more electric taxis, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported Monday.
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In a lot full of yellow taxis, Vincent Thomas opts to go green with a Tesla taxi.
“No gas, no engine check, no transmission issues,” Thomas said.
Thomas has been a taxi driver for 20 years. He has been driving the electric car for several weeks.
“When I’m at the taxi line, instead of going into a car that they’re allowed in, they leave that car and come into my car,” Thomas said.
He leases it to United Taxi Management, which has a total of four Tesla taxis. The president of the company gets more electric cars.
“It’s definitely the way of the future,” said Savis Tsitiridis.
He said the cars come with less maintenance and more safety.
“We control the speed limit from here,” Tsitiridis said, showing the technology to DeAngelis. “Also, if the diver takes their foot off the break, the car won’t roll.”
“It will reduce the number of accidents,” he said.
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The Tesla Model 3 is the only electric taxi licensed to operate in New York. There are currently around ten, but the Taxi and Limousine Commission is proposing a one-year pilot program that would increase the battery-electric models allowed for use.
“There are cost savings, recharging the vehicle instead of spending $25 to $30 per shift,” Tsitiridis said.
He installed two charging stations at a nearby car wash, but said to increase the number of Tesla taxis, the chargers would need to be placed strategically around the city.
The executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance sees benefits, but also raises concerns for the struggling industry.
“What they really need is not a new vehicle model. They need significant debt forgiveness. This is really where all the attention in the city should be,” said Bhairavi Desai.
Desai is also concerned about what will happen to the accessible service.
“The yellow cab industry has more accessible vehicles than any other sector of the industry,” she said. “If you have a proliferation of electric vehicles, more fuel-efficient vehicles – which is good for drivers, don’t get me wrong – but the problem is, what’s going to happen with accessible service on the whole line?”
TLC’s board of directors will vote on the pilot program on Tuesday.
“You know, Uber and Lyft and all those rideshares took a lot of our business. But Teslas are coming, so I think more people will turn to yellow cabs,” Thomas said.
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Electric transportation company Revel recently announced the launch of a ride-sharing service with Tesla in New York.