Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to overhaul the way taxis are hailed could be headed for defeat. The city’s top lobbyist said the bill will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo without any changes and the governor has already signaled he’s unhappy with the bill as is.
If approved, the bill would authorize the city to sell 30,000 permits to livery drivers that would allow them to accept street hails in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs. It would also green-light the auction of 1,500 taxi medallions, with more than 500 of those set aside for accessible taxis. The Bloomberg administration has promised since the beginning of last year, that plan would improve taxi service throughout the five boroughs since yellow taxis rarely stray from Manhattan.
The plan has had many opponents, including taxi fleet owners who worried the livery permits would devalue their expensive medallions and upend the industry. They fought hard against the bill since it passed last summer. Governor Cuomo also said on a number of occasions he wanted more wheelchair accessibility included into the plan.
Negotiations to modify the bill through a chapter amendment during the special session this week appears to have failed. Micah Lasher, director of State Legislative Affairs, said, “Over the last six months the governor has repeatedly expressed support for the goals of the legislation and also said he wanted to make certain changes in the form of a chapter amendment. He and his staff were finalizing an amendment this morning but it was never sent to the Legislature.”
The bill is expected to be sent to the Governor on Friday. Lasher said even without the changes, the bill would still improve city transportation options if approved. “While the Mayor, along with legislative leaders was prepared to support the chapter amendment, it is not necessary to achieve the goals of the legislation.”
Cuomo’s office would not comment.
Michael Woloz, spokesperson with the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, said, “We urge the Governor to veto this deeply flawed bill and start fresh in the light of a new session in January so the city can fully realize the revenue of a medallion sale in a stabilized medallion environment, the taxi and livery industries remain viable and accessibility gets adequately addressed in the issuance of a new class of livery cars.”
Once it hits Governor Cuomo’s desk he has ten days to sign the bill, veto it or send it back.