In a recent conference call with the press, mayoral candidate Bill Thompson said his fellow Democrat Anthony Weiner “just doesn’t know what he’s talking about” when he criticizes Mayor Bloomberg’s outer borough taxi and livery car plan.
And since Thompson’s statement on July 12, the Weiner campaign has neither responded to Thompson’s assertion, nor trotted out its own vision for improving taxi service outside Manhattan’s central business district and the two Queens airports.
“He said he would change that the moment he got into office,” Thompson said. “For 40 years millions of people have been denied the right to hail a cab. That battle was won despite council delays. Now in an ill-advised diatribe he wants to singlehandedly turn back the clock.”
Under the outer borough taxi plan, livery car drivers who obtain a special license, signs, meters and GPS devices will be able to take street hails in the four outer boroughs and in Manhattan north of 96th Street.
Street hails right now are the exclusive right of yellow taxis operating under the medallion system of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Bloomberg and the TLC argued that yellow cab drivers tended to swarm in the Manhattan central business district and the airports for more lucrative fares, thus leaving the rest of the city underserved.
Medallion owners went to court last year and temporarily stopped the plan on the grounds that the Bloomberg administration passed the plan in the state Legislature after it ran into endless delays in the City Council.
The New York State Court of Appeals upheld the plan in June, allowing it to go forward.
Weiner had said in published reports that people who now count on livery cars, which must be called through a dispatch system, would lose the convenience as those now allowed to do so would be away from their bases looking for street hails.
Thompson said livery drivers looking to pick up fares still would come when called. He also said breaking up the Bloomberg program now would hurt the livings of numerous livery drivers who now have the hope of expanding their business opportunities.
He also said it would once again relegate people in Queens, Brooklyn and other places — many with concentrations of low-income, minority residents — without reliable taxi service.
“When I read his comments, it clearly shows my opponent is detached from reality,” Thompson said.
A Brooklyn native, Thompson said many people over decades have had no choice but to hail livery cars illegally due to a lack of taxi service for routine errands such as going to the grocery store.
“I think Anthony has a lack of understanding of what that means, a lack of understanding of communities outside of Manhattan that have been deprived of taxi service,” Thompson said. “Now that the court has ruled, we need to move forward with this and make sure everyone in New York City gets the service they’re entitled to.”
Contrary to Weiner’s assertions, Thompson and the TLC have said that all livery drivers will be required to have the same meters, insurance and regulations as taxis.
Weiner’s campaign has not returned messages left by the Queens Chronicle to rebut Thompson; to say how or if he would change the status quo in the outer boroughs; or whether he believes existing taxi service in the outer boroughs is sufficient as it is.