Janet Lee

Janet Lee
Photo:Janet Lee, injured by a taxi partition.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Why are substandard taxi partitions OK for Handicapped Accessible and Hybrid Taxis, but not for any other cabs?

The NYC TLC is in a puzzling position. While they posture themselves as guardians of taxi safety, they simultaneously admit that for 45 years they required, inspected and approved partitions which are now on the record as being the bane of taxi safety in collisions.

Now, since there have been crash tests conducted by Nissan, the only partitions allowed in the vast majority of NYC taxis are the ones that have been crash tested using anthropomorphic test dummies. The only partitions crash tested, using dummies, are the partitions designed by Nissan and the NYC TLC. This is a ploy to force all fleet owners to purchase only Nissan NV200's.

There are plenty of crash test results from using partitions in taxis. The doctors have testified to the TLC about the frequency and severity of injury resulting from collision contact with the taxi partition. Dr. Sherman explained that hundreds of taxi occupants have been injured. That is a gross understatement of the fact.

Here are some notes from the NYC TLC's own website;

Statement of Basis and Purpose

"Preparing a vehicle to serve as a taxi, or what is known in the industry as “hacking up”, includes
installing a TLC authorized partition. The partition, which is installed after the vehicle has been
manufactured, is neither designed by the auto manufacturer nor present when the vehicle
undergoes federally required safety testing. Installation of the partition can harm the vehicle’s
structural integrity, airbag deployment, and overall safety because it adds stiffness to the
vehicle’s frame which can affect how the vehicle performs during a side impact, exposing
passengers to an increased risk of head and face injuries."

"In June 2013, several medical professionals testified at a TLC hearing in favor of crash testing a
taxicab vehicle with the partition installed. Dr. John Sherman, M.D., F.A.C.S. testified that the
taxi partition has accounted for hundreds of injuries to passengers throughout the years.
Similarly, other physicians who have treated passengers in taxicab accidents noted that many of
the injuries they see are a result of the partition. Dr. Charles DiMaggio, PhD specifically
explained that safety testing with the partition installed would decrease the risk of passenger
head and face injuries because such testing would ensure that partitions are designed so that they
do not interfere with airbag deployment."

"To minimize injury to taxi passengers and drivers resulting from partitions when a vehicle is 
involved in an accident, the proposed rules require that the vehicles described below be crash 
tested by auto manufacturers with the TLC authorized partition installed. A limited exception is 
made for hybrid electric and accessible vehicles, allowing such vehicles to be hacked up as 
taxicabs until one hybrid electric and one accessible vehicle, respectively, are crash tested with a 
TLC authorized partition. Requiring crash testing with TLC authorized partitions ensures that all 
auto manufacturers looking to participate in the New York City taxi market are held to the same 
high safety standards." 
"In 2012, the TLC received over 100 passenger complaints about air quality, ventilation, odors, or 
temperature inside taxicabs. In some cases, the passenger complained that the driver refused to 
use or adjust the temperature or ventilation. At a City Council hearing on March 5, 2013, 
Council Member David Greenfield complained about the odor and lack of ventilation in some 
taxicabs and asked the Commission to address the issue. Giving passengers the ability to control 
the temperature and ventilation in the back of the taxicab addresses these concerns. The proposed 
rule also requires that vehicles with a crash-tested, TLC authorized partition have rear-controlled 
air conditioning."

"The proposed rule also:  Exempts hybrid electric vehicles from these requirements until a hybrid electric vehicle manufacturer has crash tested a hybrid electric vehicle with a TLC authorized partition
installed in the vehicle and the vehicle has passenger-controlled rear air conditioning,
after which all hybrid electric vehicles to be used as taxicabs must be crashed tested with
a TLC authorized partition installed in the vehicle and have passenger-controlled rear air
conditioning,"

"Exempts accessible vehicles from this requirement until an accessible vehicle
manufacturer has crash tested an accessible vehicle with a TLC authorized partition
installed in the vehicle and the vehicle has passenger-controlled rear air conditioning,
after which all accessible vehicles to be used as taxicabs must be crashed tested with a
TLC authorized partition installed in the vehicle and have passenger-controlled rear air
conditioning,"

Considering the following, taxi partition installation requirements should come to an immediate end. The scheme that is intended to corner the entire NYC taxi vehicle market, for Nissan and the TLC is not a simple one. By requiring only crash tested partitions, they are in fact requiring the Nissan NV200. It is the only one, so far, that has been crash tested. It should be noted that nobody has declared that the Nissan NV200 partition has actually PASSED a crash test yet.

The CDC in Atlanta recently declared that their study on partition use in taxis showed, that no fewer murders occurred in cities with partitions, than in those cities without partitions. Just the fact that murders occur at all... with partitions, is proof that it is folly to require allegedly bullet-resistant partitions. With additional losses associated with collision impact, partitions should be at most, a driver option. I suggest the TLC stay the course concerning compliance in partition design. 

I find it puzzling that the NYC TLC feels the sub-standard design that they have required for years is still OK for Hybrid and H/A taxis.
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