Anxiety Looms in the Livery Industry as Borough Taxi Permit Sale Nears

Friday, April 06, 2012 - 02:55 PM

Livery Cab (photo by Kate Hinds)

The livery industry is set to change how it does business after the Taxi and Limousine Commission votes on rules for its new five borough street hail plan later this month.

It’s the last major step before the first 6,000 livery permits are sold in June and legal street hail service comes to the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan in a new form -- and it’s causing much uncertainty within the industry.

At a TLC sponsored information session near Yankee stadium this week, about 300 livery drivers and base owners crowded into the auditorium at Lincoln Hospital voicing concerns and seeking answers.

Judy Vargas, who owns a livery base in Washington Heights, said she’s concerned about a new rule that would punish base owners if their drivers break the rules, such as accepting street hails outside the stipulated boundaries.

“The TLC should not fine base owners when the taxi drivers pick up in the street because if we are going to have a permit that costs $3,000, we shouldn't be fined for that."

Vargas is also worried about some of the other requirements but she believes if she doesn't opt in her drivers will leave. There are 476 livery bases throughout the city.

"If we're not part of it … my drivers will go somewhere else,” Vargas said.

Drivers are also up in arms about some of the changes outlined by the TLC is a 89-page rule book on the proposed street hails.

(Photo: TLC Commissioner David Yassky talks with livery driver Clara Santiago.Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

Veteran Bronx driver Hamilton Delos Santos said he's been picking up street hails for a decade — even though it’s not technically legal. He has been ticketed three times in 10 years, but successfully fought the summonses.

He said he’s not sure why he would need to invest about $5,000 to upgrade his cab and buy a new livery permit.

“I’ve been taking street hails since I’ve been doing it, so now we have to invest all this money. It’s something we've already been doing for so long — what’s the total investment, the paint the meter, the taxi top — too many questions not being answered in there.”

The fine for accepting illegal street hails is $350.00.

During the information session, Clara Santiago, who works for Riverside Car Service, asked TLC Commissioner David Yassky why she'll have to paint her car a different color if she purchases a livery permit.

She has a black Lincoln.

“You want to keep it that way..I understand. But we’re trying to make a distinction about the cars that can pick up off the street and the ones that can't,” he said.

Yassky said he's not surprised there is still some confusion. He expects much of that to melt away after the plan is enacted and passengers do what they do best — put up their arms and hail a cab.

"Once we get the licenses issued and the drivers are in the street with borough taxis and people are able to hail them down, I think a lot of the questions people will figure out for themselves. Drivers are smart, passengers are smart. Our job is to just get those cars out on the street so people can flag them down.”


Comments [1]


The scope of the TLC, should be limited to getting illegal gypsy drivers, instead of generating revenue for the city by harassing legitimate livery drivers via fines; so that city can close there budget issues on the backs of drivers.

STREET HAILS ARE OBSELETE WITH CURRENT TECHNOLOGY, a livery taxi can be requested throughout the 5 boroughs by phone, mobile app, or through a website. At the convenience of any location, be it home, job, lobby, club, etc; there is no need to be hailing anything in bad weather.

Here are some suggestions for the TLC:
- Reduce fines prices across the board at least by half.
- Eliminate the points system from fines.
- Vehicle inspection should be done only once a year.
- Eliminate or greatly reduce the street hail livery base bond fee.
- Eliminate or greatly reduce street hail livery permit fee.
- Eliminate the additional equipment requirements.
- Eliminate or greatly reduce regulations that stifle innovation.
- Investigate and help reduce the high cost of insurance premiums
- Encourage the creation of the Taxi Driver Protection Act.

Street hails will only bring the following:
- Unneccesary roaming of drivers.
- More Traffic.
- More Accidents.
- More Pollution.
- More un-sustainable regulations and expenses.
- An extremely expensive wheelchair accessible vehicle.
- Extremely expensive meters, credit card, and security equipment, that requires maintenance and inspections on a regular basis, hence an additional expense.
- Insurance Premiums Skyrocketing compared to standard livery insurance.
- $1500 for a street hail permit is outragious.
- More regulations that stifle innovation and ease of commerce.

If the TLC really wants this to work, these are should be the requirements:
- $100 for the street hail permit.
- No additional equipment, rules, or regulations.

Apr. 06 2012 06:52 PM

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