Taxi Drivers Rip Proposal to Make Livery Street Hails Legal

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Taxi drivers clad in yellow T-shirts rallied at City Hall on Monday to protest a proposal that would allow livery cabs to make street pickups in the outer boroughs and Upper Manhattan.

Chanting slogans like "We pay taxes" and "No free rides," drivers said they are concerned the livery cabs would be unfair competition that said they don't have the same costs that yellow cabs do.

Legislation introduced in Albany over the weekend moves to allow New York City residents in the outer boroughs and Upper Manhattan to legally hail livery cabs.

The bill would authorize the sale of 30,000 "hail privilege permits" to livery cab operators and allow the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission to sell up to 1,500 new yellow cab medallions.

Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said the legislation would make it easier for the "80 percent of New Yorkers" in the outer boroughs to hail a cab and would generate about $1 billion in revenue for the city when the new medallions are auctioned off next year.

But the New York Taxi Workers' Alliance strongly opposes the plan. Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said the legislation would make it impossible for already-struggling cab drivers to survive.

"You're talking about people who already earn very little, and to take even more earnings out of their pocket is just going to drive people deeper into poverty."

Desai's group will join other yellow taxi and livery cab organizations to demonstrate their opposition to the measure at a rally Monday afternoon at City hall.