Outside of the London Black Cab, there may not be a more famous taxi cab than the yellow NYC Ford Crown Victoria. The yellow Crown Vic has been featured in countless movies, music videos, and various other artworks throughout its time in service that it's probably the car you think of first when you think of a taxi cab. However, there are only two Crown Vics left in New York City, according to the New York Times, and their time for this world is short.
Ravinder Sharma and Haroon Abdullah are the owners of NYC's last two Panther-chassis Crown Vics, both of which combine for more than one million miles. However, both Sharma's and Abdullah's cars are on borrowed time, and will soon be forcibly put out to pasture.
In 2012, the Crown Vic was taken off the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission's (TLC) approved vehicle list, which prevented new Crown Vics from getting taxi medallions. Existing cabs have a regulatory shelf life of seven years with the TLC, which meant Sharma's and Abdullah's cabs were originally supposed to be decommissioned several years ago, but an extension was given due to COVID. Those extensions are now over, and the last two cabs have officially overstayed their regulatory welcome.
Sharma turns 65 in a few months and is going to ask the TLC to extend his Crown Vic's until then. “I’m thinking if they allow me to drive, I drive,” said Sharma, per NYT. “If they don’t, I take my Social Security and retire.”
Abdullah is unfortunately in a trickier situation, as he's in a tough financial spot and needs his Crown Vic to earn his living, as he can't afford a newer cab. “I’m behind on my bills. If they don’t allow me to drive this car, I won’t make the income I need to buy a new car.”
Knowing that the final two Crown Vics will be decommissioned from NYC taxi cab-duty is sad, as it very much feels like the end of an era. The Crown Vic has been in taxi cab service for my entire adult life, so much so that any other sort of cab feels foreign to me. It also has tough financial implications for its final two owners, adding a real, human element to its demise. I wonder what the next affordable, iconic cab will be? Whatever it is, it has big shoes to fill.
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