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Livery Cab Drivers Push Back Against Borough-Only Medallions

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Livery cab drivers joined with elected officials in Inwood on Sunday to resist the city's plans to introduce additional cab service outside Manhattan.

Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky is proposing to add 6,000 new medallions that would permit drivers to only pick up passengers in the outer boroughs.

Queens council member Julissa Ferreras said the plan unnecessarily favors yellow cabs because, she argued, livery cab drivers "know the streets, they know the community" and should be able to pick up passengers on the street.

"The service is already being provided," Ferreras said. "We need to actively work on being able to legalize the street hails."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed the legalization of street hails earlier this year, but the idea was met with opposition from yellow cab owners. The more recent proposal, to have "borough only" medallions, has angered many livery cab drivers, in part because it's seen as a money-making venture for the city that could generate intense competition for fares outside of Manhattan.

"We don't see how we're going to be able to compete in an auction with the medallion owners," said Cira Angeles, the spokesperson for the Livery Base Owners Association.

Daniel Gemeres, who manages Kiss Car Service, in Inwood, said the city should acknowledge that many residents outside Manhattan are already street-hailing livery cabs, regardless of the law against it. He also worries that the medallions would end up in the hands of deep-pocketed yellow cab companies.

"$600,000, $700,000, a million-dollar medallion -- who gonna get it?" he asked. "Our drivers are not going to be able to pay for the medallion."

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