Can’t find a cab in Queens?
That should soon change.
City officials at last week’s Community Board 10 meeting detailed Mayor Bloomberg’s recently announced plan to create a new class of livery cabs that would be allowed to pick up street hail passengers outside of Manhattan.
Currently, only yellow medallion cabs are legally permitted to stop and pick up passengers on the street.
“Ninety-seven percent of yellow cab pick-ups happen in Manhattan or at the airports, even though 80 percent of New Yorkers live outside of Manhattan,” Bloomberg said in his State of the City speech in January. “This year, we’ll establish a new category of livery cars that can make on-street pickups outside of Manhattan. It will give New Yorkers in all five boroughs another safe, reliable and convenient option for gettin around.”
Dawn Miller and Seth Melnick of the Office of Policy of the Taxi and Limousine Commission described the plan at CB 10’s meeting last Thursday night.
Under the mayor’s plan, which still must be approved by the City Council, the new class of cabs must be a distinct color other than yellow, have a roof light to signal availability, have uniform and recognizable markings and be equipped with meters, credit card readers and GPS locators. Livery bases would be required to obtain an additional license from the TLC and would be subject to strict regulation. Participation in the plan would be voluntary.
The fare would be the same as the yellow taxi, which is $2.50 plus 40 cents for every one-fifth of a mile.
“There is a demand for street-hail taxi service outside Manhattan, and this demand is being met by livery cars and unlicensed cars that pick up passengers illicitly,” according to a recent statement from TLC Commissioner David Yassky and city Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. “TLC field teams have observed a high volume of illicit street hails — as many as one per minute at peak periods.”
The TLC said in 2010, 2,854 summonses were issued to livery drivers for soliciting street hail passengers.
Bart Haggerty, chief of staff for city Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), said the councilman’s position is that he likes the mayor’s plan, particularly in areas that are underserved by public transportation.
“This is another means of transportation for people, particularly at night and on the weekend, when some transportation is not available,” Haggerty said. “It provides people with another means of getting home.”
Haggerty said Ulrich believes there are some logistical issues that still need to be worked out with the plan.
“But generally speaking, he is in favor of the concept,” Haggerty said.
Not everyone is, however, including yellow cabbies.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a group representing yellow cab drivers, said the plan would increase competition and cause them to have higher expenses and fewer passengers.
“Basically, the mayor is proposing a second-tier taxi market that will make second-class citizens of taxi drivers,” Bhairavi Desai, exeuctive director of the group, said in a statement.
There are approximately 33,000 cars for hire in the outer boroughs, with more than 26,000 licensed livery cabs.