At February's Chicago Auto Show, Ford unveiled its plans to bring its European Transit Connect van to the U.S. in mid 2009 and used the show to highlight the vehicle's versatility for a variety of business purposes. Add taxi to the list of Transit Connect's potential uses here in the States, with a special livery of the van debuting this week in the Big Apple -- the nation's No. 1 taxi town. Ford is already one of the leading suppliers of taxis with its Crown Victoria sedan, which is a staple of taxi fleets countrywide.

The Transit Connect Taxi concept makes sense as a potential replacement for the Crown Vic, with its high roof, ample rear space for tourist luggage and three passengers, and its relatively frugal 2.0-liter four banger rated at 19 mpg city with lower tailpipe emissions than most present taxis.

Being a concept, the Transit Connect also features an innovative 13-inch, touch screen designed to provide a variety of entertainment and other services for the customer, not the least of which is an automated payment function. Ford didn't ignore the driver either, with a built-in workstation and advanced tlecommunications and navigation equipment.

Up top is a modern take on the "taxi bubble," consisting of a flat-panel unit mounted horizontally above the Transit Connect's roof. The unit is lit on all four sides and is green if the cab is available, orange if you're out of luck.

Exterior-wise, the Transit Connect Taxi is yellow as you'd expect, but with a slightly different hue than today's taxis, in addition to gray-clad fascias, wheel arches and bumpers designed to aid in impact resistance.

The Transit seems like a logical next step in Ford's evolution of the taxi here in the States. Can you picture yourself hailing a Transit Taxi in New York soon? Or is the Crown Vic still a better choice?