Ever since June, Queens residents have been taking full advantage of a state appellate court ruling allowing specially licensed green livery cars to accept street hails.
But with the landslide election this month of Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio, the program faces an uncertain future, and City Council members representing some of the areas where the Granny Smith-green cabs have been most popular are not commenting as to just where they stand on the matter.
Until June, yellow taxis held exclusive rights to picking up street hails, while so-called livery cars needed to make pickups by appointment through a pre-arranged dispatch system.
Cab drivers, however, have tended to congregate at airports and in Midtown and Lower Manhattan, which are the most lucrative areas. Mayor Bloomberg, bypassing opposition in the City Council, got his outer-borough taxi plan approved in the state Legislature. Following June’s ruling, more than 1,300 of the green cars may take street hails outside of the airports and in Manhattan above E. 96th and W. 110th streets.
The lawsuit was filed by representatives of 38 yellow taxi fleets, and joined by de Blasio acting in his capacity as public advocate.
Multiple published sources also state that de Blasio’s campaign received about $350,000 in contributions from the yellow taxi industry.
Figures obtained last week from the Taxi and Limousine Commission show that Astoria, with more than 24,000 street hails through Nov. 10, is the city’s second-busiest location for the green cars. Forest Hills, Elmhurst and Woodside all register in the top 10.
De Blasio said last month that he intends “to go back to the drawing board” on the proposal, but has steadfastly refused to say what his alternative will be.
His transition team did not respond to emails from the Chronicle seeking clarification on his position.
Of three Council members contacted from areas in Queens heavily served by the green cars, only Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) responded, with his office saying he would have no comment. Jackson Heights is 11th on the TLC list.
The Chronicle exchanged phone calls with the office of Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) but was unable to speak with her or a representative.
Forest Hills is the fourth-busiest service location in the city.
The office of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) also did not respond to the Chronicle’s inquiry. Van Bramer represents Woodside, which was the tenth busiest in the city, as well as Long Island City/Hunters Point and Sunnyside, both of which were in the top 20.
The TLC said there currently are 1,330 livery cars operating with street hail licenses, with the total expected to hit 6,000 early next year. The existing plan calls for the sale of 6,000 licenses in each of the next two years.