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.
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.
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.
(Photo Illustration: John Keefe/WNYC. Original image courtesy of bsabarnowl/flickr)
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 Graham Russell 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.”