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Tesla Taxis? New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission Proposes Program To Authorize More Electric Cars

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The yellow cab industry in New York City could look very different down the road.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is proposing a pilot program to make way for more electric taxis, CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported Monday.

In a lot full of yellow cabs, Vincent Thomas is opting to go green with a Tesla taxi.

tesla yellow taxi cab new york city deangelis
(credit: CBS2)

"No gasoline, no engine check, no transmission problems," Thomas said.

Thomas has been a taxi driver for 20 years. He's been behind the wheel of the electric car for several weeks.

"When I'm at the taxi line, instead of going in a car that they're allowed to go into, they leave that car and come to my car," Thomas said.

He leases it from United Taxi Management, which has a total of four Tesla taxis. The company's president is getting more electric cars.

"It's definitely the way of the future," said Savis Tsitiridis.

He said the cars comes with less maintenance and more safety.

"We control from here the speed limit," Tsitiridis said as he showed DeAngelis the technology. "Also if the diver takes his foot off the break, the car will not roll."

"It's going to reduce the amount of accidents," he said.

The Tesla Model 3 is the only electric taxi approved to operate in New York City. There are currently a dozen, but the Taxi and Limousine Commission is proposing a one-year pilot program that would increase the battery-electric models authorized for use.

tesla yellow cab deangelis
(credit: CBS2)

"There's a cost savings, charging the vehicle versus spending 25 to 30 dollars per shift," Tsitiridis said.

He put two charging stations at a nearby car wash, but said in order to increase the number of Tesla taxis, chargers would have to be strategically placed around the city.

The executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance sees benefits, but also raises concerns for the struggling industry.

"Really what they need is not a new model of vehicle. They need significant debt forgiveness. That's really where the entire focus of the city should be," said Bhairavi Desai.

Desai is also concerned about what will happen to accessible service.

"The yellow cab industry has more accessible vehicles than any other sector across the industry," she said. "If you have a proliferation of electric vehicles, more fuel-efficient vehicles - which is a great thing for drivers, don't get me wrong - but the issue is, what's gonna happen with accessible service down the line?"

The TLC board will vote on the pilot program Tuesday.

"You know, Uber and Lyft and all those share rides have taken a lot of our business. But Teslas coming in, then I think more people will gravitate back to yellow taxis," Thomas said.

The electric transportation company Revel recently announced it's launching a rideshare service with Tesla in New York City.

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