NYC Wants to Legalize Hailing Livery Cabs

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(New York -- Brian Zumhagen, WNYC) New York City currently bans passengers from hailing livery cabs on the street. You can only flag down licensed yellow cabs. All other car services must be called by phone to arrange a pick up. That could soon change for New York's outer boroughs under a proposal that Mayor Bloomberg included in State of the City address Wednesday.

Longtime livery cab driver Hipolito Sime, now a manager at Evelyn Car Service in Brooklyn, said the change would be a big help for residents of underserved neighborhoods in his borough.

"Bed-Stuy, East Flatbush, East New York, Sunset Park. Where you see a big group of minorities, that's where you're most likely to see the car service, and the yellow cab's not going to go there," he said.

Sime said the change would also bring relief to livery cab drivers, who can currently be ticketed by police and fined by the Taxi and Limousine Commission if they pick up passengers without waiting for a call from a dispatcher.

"That's going to help them keep their license longer because that was points by TLC if they get caught picking up somebody in the street, that would be a point on their license," he said.

Some Yellow cab drivers are expressing concern about the proposed change. Jean-Pierre Doume is worried he could lose business to livery drivers who don't have to pay the medallion fees that he has to pay.

"The yellow cabs, we have to pay $700 approximately or $800 or maybe $110, $120 daily. With competition like that I don't think it's going to be easy," he said.

The Taxi Workers' Alliance, which represents yellow cab drivers, echoed Ahmad's concern, saying the mayor's plan threatens the economic viability of its members.

But other yellow cab drivers welcome the proposed change.

"I take the black cars over there (to Brooklyn), I have to, because the yellow cabs, they cannot work over there because they don't know the streets or the addresses. It's really hard for them," said Ali Ahmad, who lives in Brooklyn.

As for his fellow outer borough residents, Ahmad said, "I can feel for the people, you know? I don't want them to stand in the cold weather, you know? It's good for them."

(Read more on NYC taxis at WNYC)

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