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.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday he is not expecting legalized street hail service for livery car passengers "for a while."
Officials said the plan will be on hold at least until the new year, with a ruling not expected before January.
The city is appealing a State Supreme Court decision blocking the city’s plan to sell 18,000 livery street hail permits as well as 2000 yellow medallions. The estimated billion dollars in revenue from the medallion sale -- as well the expanded cab service promised by the Bloomberg administration -- hangs in the balance.
The winner so far in this saga is the powerful medallion lobby, including the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade-- chief plaintiff in the lawsuit against the 5 Boro plan. This trade association has been a successful litigant against other city taxi polices, including legally nixing a mandate several years ago by the Bloomberg administration that cabs get at least 30 miles to the gallon.
The potential losers are livery customers and drivers. The city estimates more than 120,000 -150,000 illegal street hails occur a day. Many who live beyond Manhattan and rely on non-yellow cab service said they welcome more taxi regulation for these cars—including distinctive taxi markings, so they know a taxi driver is authorized to pick up passengers--as well as greater price regulation.
Krystle James, 27, of East New York, said since livery fares can be unpredictable she tries not to hail cabs on the street, instead writing down the number of a passing livery cab and calling their office. She thinks this helps her get a firm price on the cab so there’s no haggling later.
But that’s what Tariq Mohammad, 27, from Bedford-Stuyvesant loves about livery cab hails on the street. “I’ll start off really low like $10, he’ll start off higher, $20. We’ll meet in the middle, $14-$15, I’ll give him a dollar tip. $16 bucks, I save $4,” he said.
Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said he hopes livery drivers who were planning to operate legally and buy the new permits will “hang tight” as the appeal process plays out.
“We’re going to push for the fastest possible outcome”, he promised.
Sources in the both the livery and yellow cab industry expect a compromise will eventually be struck.
Guy Palumbo with Global Transportation Network Consultants said he thinks it’s time for all sides to try and finally hash out some kind of plan soon. “At this stage the liveries and the taxis should develop a workable plan so when a decision is rendered they have a way forward," Palumbo said.
(Stephen Nessen contributed reporting.)