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Kathleen Horan

Reporter, WNYC News

Kathleen Horan appears in the following:

BREAKING: NYC Taxi Commission Approves Plan for Outer Borough Street Hails

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission voted 7-2 to approve a new plan for outer-borough livery drivers — the last major hurdle before the city can start issuing new licenses so livery drivers can pick up street hails outside of Manhattan.

It was a raucous public hearing ahead of the TLC's vote.   Two yellow cab drivers were ejected for shouting.  One owner called it "the biggest taking of property ever by New York City."

The topic of street hails is a hot-button issue for some in the yellow cab industry, which  filed a suit to block the proposed plan on Wednesday.

The plan would allow 18,000 livery drivers who purchase the new street hail permits to pick up street hails in the outer boroughs and parts of upper Manhattan.

The first 6,000 street hail licenses are scheduled to be sold in June.

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TLC Approves Draft Plan for Five-Borough Street Hails

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Taxi and Limousine Commission has voted 7 to 2 to approve the rules governing outer borough livery street hails, 15 months after Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his intention to expand taxi service throughout the city. It's the last hurdle before the city starts selling some 6,000 new medallions in June.

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Taxi Group Goes to Court to Block Livery Street Hail Plan

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WNYC

The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, an organization that represents 33 taxi fleets, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to block the Bloomberg administration’s plan to legalize street hail service for cars other than yellow cabs. The suit comes right before Thursday’s scheduled Taxi and Limousine Commission’s vote on the draft rules that will govern the livery street hail service.

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As NY Taxi Commission Prepares for Historic Vote, Dissent Looms

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Livery Cab (photo by Kate Hinds)

(New York, NY -- WNYC) The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission is poised to vote tomorrow on a set of rules to pave the way for a historic change in the way New Yorkers can hail cabs.   Beginning this summer, if the rules pass, New Yorkers will be able to hail cabs in all five boroughs, not just Manhattan.

But there's dissent among some of the commissioners about whether the 200 pages of regulations that will govern the service is being rushed to a vote.

Some on the nine-member board of the TLC say they’d like more time to consider the repercussions and make necessary tweaks to the plan.

And TLC Commissioner David Yassky is frantically trying to settle the biggest differences before the vote (for a peek at his internal memo, click here).

Queens Commissioner Norah Marino thinks there should be more time to digest the biggest change in the industry in more than 70 years.

“We just got the amended rules a couple of days ago. It’s not enough time to make a responsible decision,” Marino said. She’d like to have at least a few more months to digest the proposal.  I know the city wants to sell these permits but that’s not a valid reason to rush this vote. "This is changing the landscape of an industry — it’s not a minor vote.”

The street hail livery plan will allow owners and drivers of for-hire vehicles to pick up passengers in Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Queens (excluding the airports), and Manhattan north of West 110th and East 96th streets.

Staten Island Commissioner Elias Arout would also like to delay a vote. He said he has serious concerns about whether it’s good for Staten Island in the first place, but would like to have more time to consider the possible effects on his borough’s livery industry. “We’re trying to ask Chairman Yassky to extend the vote for a few months but he wants this done Thursday,” he explained.

TLC Spokesman Allan Fromberg said they have every expectation of moving forward with a vote this week as planned.

The plan to deliver legal street hail livery service beyond Manhattan where most yellow cabs operate has been a central focus of Bloomberg administration over the past year. The eagerness to complete the process is also budgetary, since the billion dollars in expected revenue from the scheduled yellow medallion auction this summer is tied to the sale of the first livery street hail licenses.

Commissioner Frank Carone of Brooklyn said he’s prepared to cast his vote in support because TLC has agreed to make some last minute rule changes. In the most recent TLC memo to commissioners, Commissioner Yasky addresses some of the last minute changes, including increasing penalties for accepting street hails outside the upper Manhattan zone, where the street hail liveries are banned from picking up passengers. Carone also thinks moving forward is the best for all concerned. “The industry needs closure,” he said.

While upper Manhattan Councilman and former livery driver Ydanis Rodriguez  supports the overall plan, he hopes the TLC exercises some caution as they move to implement it. “I believe it’s a good initiative but now is the time to look at the details so that the users, the livery divers, and base owners have a clear understanding. We should take the time that is needed to make sure we have a good plan,” he said.

The public hearing and TLC vote on the livery hail draft rules will be held at Brooklyn Borough Hall at 9 a.m. on the April 19.

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Livery Street-Hail Vote Is Being Rushed, Some Say

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WNYC

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is poised to vote on draft rules for the city's street hail livery plan on Thursday. It's one of the final steps necessary before selling the first livery license permits in June. But there's dissent among some of the commissioners about whether the 200 pages of regulations that will govern the service is being rushed to a vote.

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Armed Suspect Shot Dead After Harlem Pharmacy Holdup

Thursday, April 12, 2012

An armed suspect fleeing on foot after holding up an East Harlem pharmacy at gunpoint Thursday was shot and killed by a retired police lieutenant who happened to be nearby, police said.

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Neighborhood Raises Concerns About Alcohol at Barclay's Center

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

About 100 Brooklyn residents concerned about crowds of beer-addled sports fans leaving the future Barclay's Center turned out in force at a community board meeting Tuesday night at the 78th precinct in the neighborhood. At issue is the arena's liquor license application.

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New Yorkers Check out Taxi of Tomorrow

Sunday, April 08, 2012

It's roomy...but also boxy. Those are some assessments of New Yorkers who got to check out the  'Taxi of Tomorrow," unveiled this week with much fanfare. The Nissan minivan has been chosen by city officials be the cab for the next decade, beginning next year as older cabs are retired.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked the tires with Nissan execs Tuesday night, as the press was treated to cocktails and hors d‘oeuvres while they inspected the vehicle.

But at the New York International Auto on Friday, potential passengers got to see for the first time the taxi that will shuttle them home in the wee hours or take them cross town when they’re late for a meeting for the next decade.

The  NV200 model attracted a small crowd.

Myles Simmons from Manhattan looked closely at the prototype on display. He said he appreciated many of the next taxi’s features.

"I do like that there's leg room, I like that you have personal climate controls in the back, and that there's the USB ports where you can charge things," he said.

He did wonder why the minivan couldn’t fit wheelchairs.

Brooklyn’s Eddie Fernandez said part of the reason he came to the auto show was to look at the taxi. “I wanted to see exactly what it looked like up close before they put it on the street.”

Fernandez said the larger size will come in handy for New Yorkers who schlep around tons of stuff. “A lot of people have baby carriages, or luggage, they carry big bags around with I-Pads and all of their electronics, so I like that,” he said.

But others like Brooklyn's Orlando Vargas didn't approve of the boxy shape of the Nissan. Vargas would have preferred something sportier.

"This is just too cargo-y, just like a delivery van in a way, a yellow delivery van," he said.

The  NV200 will retail for $29,700 when it goes on sale in 2013.

The brighter yellow cabs of the near future will be on display at the Javits Center until April 15.

Getting a closer look at the city's next taxi
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NYer’s Check Out ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ Now

Friday, April 06, 2012

WNYC

The 'Taxi of Tomorrow' was unveiled this week with much fanfare. The Nissan minivan has been chosen by city officials be the cab for the next decade, beginning next year as older cabs are retired.

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Anxiety Looms in the Livery Industry as Borough Taxi Permit Sale Nears

Friday, April 06, 2012

The livery industry is set to change how it does business when the Taxi and Limousine Commission will vote on rules for its new five borough street hail plan this month.

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Anxiety Looms in the Livery Industry as Borough Taxi Permit Sale Nears

Friday, April 06, 2012

Livery Cab (photo by Kate Hinds)

The livery industry is set to change how it does business after the Taxi and Limousine Commission votes on rules for its new five borough street hail plan later this month.

It’s the last major step before the first 6,000 livery permits are sold in June and legal street hail service comes to the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan in a new form -- and it’s causing much uncertainty within the industry.

At a TLC sponsored information session near Yankee stadium this week, about 300 livery drivers and base owners crowded into the auditorium at Lincoln Hospital voicing concerns and seeking answers.

Judy Vargas, who owns a livery base in Washington Heights, said she’s concerned about a new rule that would punish base owners if their drivers break the rules, such as accepting street hails outside the stipulated boundaries.

“The TLC should not fine base owners when the taxi drivers pick up in the street because if we are going to have a permit that costs $3,000, we shouldn't be fined for that."

Vargas is also worried about some of the other requirements but she believes if she doesn't opt in her drivers will leave. There are 476 livery bases throughout the city.

"If we're not part of it … my drivers will go somewhere else,” Vargas said.

Drivers are also up in arms about some of the changes outlined by the TLC is a 89-page rule book on the proposed street hails.

(Photo: TLC Commissioner David Yassky talks with livery driver Clara Santiago.Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

Veteran Bronx driver Hamilton Delos Santos said he's been picking up street hails for a decade — even though it’s not technically legal. He has been ticketed three times in 10 years, but successfully fought the summonses.

He said he’s not sure why he would need to invest about $5,000 to upgrade his cab and buy a new livery permit.

“I’ve been taking street hails since I’ve been doing it, so now we have to invest all this money. It’s something we've already been doing for so long — what’s the total investment, the paint the meter, the taxi top — too many questions not being answered in there.”

The fine for accepting illegal street hails is $350.00.

During the information session, Clara Santiago, who works for Riverside Car Service, asked TLC Commissioner David Yassky why she'll have to paint her car a different color if she purchases a livery permit.

She has a black Lincoln.

“You want to keep it that way..I understand. But we’re trying to make a distinction about the cars that can pick up off the street and the ones that can't,” he said.

Yassky said he's not surprised there is still some confusion. He expects much of that to melt away after the plan is enacted and passengers do what they do best — put up their arms and hail a cab.

"Once we get the licenses issued and the drivers are in the street with borough taxis and people are able to hail them down, I think a lot of the questions people will figure out for themselves. Drivers are smart, passengers are smart. Our job is to just get those cars out on the street so people can flag them down.”

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Macy's Re-Opens After Fire Forces Evacuation

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Broken glass and soot on the sidewalk around Macy's in Herald Square serve as reminders of the fire that forced the evacuation of the iconic store for about an hour Wednesday afternoon.

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Coney Island's Operator Hopes 3rd Season is the Charm

Sunday, April 01, 2012

WNYC

A sure sign that spring is here is the sound of the of the Cyclone roller coaster rattling in Coney Island. The 2012 season officially begins on Sunday and will be operating on weekends until Memorial Day when the seaside amusement areas Luna Park and the Scream Zone open daily.

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Council Passes Building Workers Wage Bill

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The City Council approved a bill that would guarantee higher wages for some workers at buildings that receive city subsidies of more than $1 million on Wednesday. Most would see their wages top $20 an hour.

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Food Coops: The Not-So-Happy Marriage of Organic Produce and Politics

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

WNYC

In Brooklyn, the Park Slope Coop voted 1005 to 653 not to move forward on a controversial proposal to ban products from Israel Tuesday night.

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Taxi Industry Skittish About Proposed Rule Changes

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Taxi and Limousine Commission held its first public hearing on Thursday about proposed rule changes in the taxi industry as the city’s five borough taxi legislation comes to fruition and street hail permits begin to be sold in June.

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Iconic Bowery Store Closes After More Than 25 Years

Friday, March 09, 2012

Billy’s Antiques, the offbeat shop located under the big tent on the corner of Bowery and Houston is having a final goodbye party this weekend.

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The Next New York Cabs? For the Outer Boroughs, City Eyes Green Cabs

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Photo Illustration: John Keefe/WNYC. Original image courtesy of bsabarnowl/flickr

( New York, NY -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) It ain’t easy being green. But in a few months New Yorkers could be hailing an emerald, lime or chartreuse cab.

The city is moving ahead with its plan to sell street hail livery permits that allow livery cars to accept street hails in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs. Part of the plan: the cabs have to be noticeably different from other taxis.

The TLC rules state the cabs “must be painted” what’s called “Street Hail Livery [color to be designated]” — and it can’t be yellow.

[To vote on what color you like, click here. )

Though TLC officials say they have not yet settled on a color, insiders say it’s been narrowed down to green.

“From my understanding, it’s going to be ‘livery green,’” said Guy Palumbo, former executive director of the Livery Roundtable.

Green has become the likely choice through a process of elimination, according to Livery Base Owners Association spokeswoman Cira Angeles.

“Blue to a certain degree is associated with the police, red with emergency vehicles. Finally someone mentioned green, and it sounded like a pretty good idea when it comes to identifying the car,” she said. “I, personally, love green.”

Other than color, street hail liveries will look and act like yellow medallion taxis. They’ll have roof lights, credit card readers, meters and partitions.

But street hail liveries can only pick up in the outer boroughs and in Manhattan north of West 110th street and East 96th. Airports are also excluded.

The yellow taxi hasn’t always been painted its signature color. Cabs could be found in an array of hues until the City Council passed a bill in 1968 that prohibited non-medallion cabs or liveries from using typical cab colors of yellow, orange, red or gold— differentiating them from medallion cabs.

In 1970, the city made yellow the official color of the medallion cab.

Yellow was the easiest color to differentiate long distance and not a lot of regular cars on the road were painted that color, according to professor GrahamRussell Gao Hodges, author of the book Taxi! A Social History of the New York City Cab Driver.

He said now the livery industry has come “full circle,” ready to enter a more legitimate world and be painted its own distinctive color.”

The TLC is expected to announce the color sometime this spring before the draft rules are finalized and the sale of the first 6,000 livery permits begins in June.

Livery passengers have differing opinions about what color the TLC should settle on.

Bronx resident Mario Robles favors dark blue, the color of many New York professional sports teams.

“Green is OK, but me, personally, I don’t think it professional,” he said. “I’ve seen green cabs in other cities, I don’t think of it as a New York color.”

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New Borough Taxis to Be Painted Green, Insiders Say

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The city is moving ahead with its plan to sell street hail livery permits that allow livery cars to accept street hails in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs. Part of the plan: the cabs have to be noticeably different from other taxis.

TELL US: What shade of green best suits livery cabs?

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TLC Budget to Increase As Medallion Sale and Livery Permit Plan Gets Underway This Summer

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

WNYC

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is proposing a budget increase of $20 million in the next fiscal year to cover the cost of providing grants for purchasers of street hail livery permits that are wheelchair accessible.

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