New York's Ambitious Taxi Plans Calls for More $$

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - 12:02 PM

One of the approximately 200 wheelchair accessible cabs in the city. (photo by Kate Hinds/WNYC)

(New York, NY -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC)  Sometime in the fall, many more New York cabs will be wheelchair accessible, and it will be much easier to hail a cab in northern Manhattan, and in the other four boroughs.  New York City will also start collecting on what it hopes will be $1 billion in revenue from the new medallions sold.

But multiple layers and flaming hoops lie ahead.

There's the $20 million the Taxi and Limousine Commission will need to pay for grants to make cars wheelchair accessible -- a full third of its $60 million budget.

At the City Council Transportation Committee budget hearings on Tuesday, Commissioner David Yassky testified that it’s still unclear whether the grants will be distributed up front or if they’d be spaced out.

Yassky added “There’s a big difference between a $1000 dollar grant on day one and then $14,000 a few years from now-- versus $15,000 up front.”

The Bloomberg administration’s 5 Borough Taxi Plan calls for the sale of 18,000 HAIL licenses or permits over the next 3 years. 20% are required to be accessible. The first 6000 are scheduled to be sold this June.

Yassky said that the HAIL licenses will be sold on a first come, first serve basis.

But only licensed for-hire vehicle operators in good standing will be able to purchase them.

The Commissioner is standing by the Mayor’s and his agency’s estimate that the yellow medallion auction, also scheduled in the upcoming budget, would bring in a billion dollars in city revenue. At the hearing, some council members expressed concerns if that was realistic.

But the city has its work cut out for it. The TLC has to re-write existing rules, and go through the required public comment period before putting the HAIL permits up for sale. After that, it's legally permitted by the state to start selling medallions. Even then, only 400 can be auctioned. After the initial sale, the city must submit its long term accessibility plan to the State Department of Transportation for approval before moving forward with the rest of the auction.

Then there’s the pending federal lawsuit.  A judge ruled in December that the TLC must assure that its providing meaningful access to wheelchair bound New Yorkers. The city is appealing that decision but Yassky conceded that sometimes it's prudent to spend more money than policy dictates.

“If down the line you see us spending money and you say its not worth that level of expenditure—I would say to you that we also have the courts to worry about.”


Comments [2]

Alex Reiger

This whole plan/idea is DOOMED to fail. These politicians are not businessmen NOR do they understand the industry. The entire plan is based on wishful thinking and ignoring all the true facts of the past. Let's look at the harsh reality....

1. The TLC can't even protect the Yellow Medallions prized areas from poaching (South of 96th Street, the Airports and major transit are they planning on protecting the poor drivers who buy Outer Boro Street Hail permits?!?!?! They would need an Army.

2. In an economy, where drivers are making barely enough to survive, they City now wants them to buck up upwards $10K to make their cars Hail permissible?!?!?! That's not even factoring in the additional costs of getting an entirely new vehicle which is capable of being wheel chair accessible and the equipment as well.

3. How did Access-A-Ride do? A major failure. Hey, but that's only proven history.

4. Anybody notice that due to the economy, Street Hails are shrinking? Who has the money?

5. Wasn't this all about generating needed revenue for the City? I believe if you peel back this Onion, that was the original rally cry. Well is seems to me that this is going to cost a whole lot of money to launch an run...
A)$15K grants for drivers to comply with the handicap accessibility.
B) Added hiring of TLC officers to enforce the laws...which will still be far, far too little.
C) Added cost to TLC infrastructure to facilitate this whole under taking.

So at the end of the day, taking into account the economy-which affects the drivers and the potential customers, the ability of the drivers to afford the upgrade and associated costs and the true costs of implementing this plan based on wishful thinking, what the hell are we doing here?

Here are the true facts:
The amount of people needing a street hail in the outer boros pales in comparison to the number of livery drivers this is going to affect.
Probably more handicapped people than Outer boro hails on a regular basis yet they've proven that they can't even get that right (Access-A-Ride)
How much is the City really going to be profiting when you subtract the real costs of this plan.

Over what? A handful of people who want to hail a cab in the outer boros? Funny, it hasn't been a major issue in any past Mayor's campaign.

Mar. 16 2012 04:50 PM

This experiment is dead on arrival, because of all the additional expenses involved; it's not economically sustainable.

Let's look at the new 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 will double or triple, because the vehicle is being used for street hails.
- $1500 yearly for street hail permit, outrageous.

Now let's see what will additional street hails will bring:
- Unneccesary roaming of drivers.
- More Traffic.
- More Accidents.
- More Pollution.
- More expenses to the driver, that are not sustainable.

If the TLC really wants this to work, these should be the requirements:
- $300 yearly for street hail permit.
- No additional requirements, rules, or regulations.

STREET HAILS ARE ALREADY OBSOLETE WITH CURRENT TECHNOLOGY, a livery taxi can be requested throughout the 5 boroughs by phone, mobile app, or through there respective websites. At the convenience of any location, be it home, job, lobby, club, etc; there is no need to be hailing anything in bad weather. Now if the riding public can't make a simple call or use a mobile app to request transportation services, then we are all doomed.

Mar. 07 2012 04:11 PM

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