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NYC Mayor Hits Roadblock in Taxi Rule Change Plan

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 03:04 PM

Photo: CC by Flickr user Vincent van der Pas

(New York -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) New York's mayor is facing considerable opposition in his plan to change the city's taxi rules to allow residents to hail livery cabs in the outer boroughs.

Currently, only the city's registered iconic yellow cabs can pick up passengers who hail them from the street. Those cabs operate primarily in Manhattan. Livery cabs by contrast rely on passengers who call the city's many car services then dispatch the cars by radio, and operate primarily in the outer boroughs.

When Mayor Bloomberg announced his plan in the State Of The City address earlier this year, he said he would create a whole new class of taxi--a livery car that works essentially like a yellow cab in places most regular taxis are hard to find.

Now, the Bloomberg administration's plan to allow New Yorkers to hail livery cabs in the outer boroughs has hit major roadblocks. Stakeholders say the lack of outreach in advance of the mayor's announcement hurt the proposal from the start.

The yellow taxi industry and fleet owners who own multiple medallions in particular, say the Mayor's plan would have upended their whole business model since they have the exclusive right to pick up street hails.

The city says only about 3 percent of taxi hails are in the outer boroughs, so little would be lost if yellow cabs shared street hail rights. Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna says it's not surprising that fleet owners who benefit from the 'status quo' are resisting change but says they have undo influence, especially with city council members who must approve changes to the law that govern taxis.

City officials say the mayor set out to provide the same level of taxi service to all five boroughs and that will still happen, no matter the plan.

Taxi stakeholders say that's possible as long as what New Yorkers are hailing remains yellow.

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