Central Park horse-drawn carriage drivers are upset over Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's announcement that he's going to put an end to their business.
At a press conference Monday morning, de Blasio reiterated his campaign pledge that the city's 220 horses have to go. "We're going to quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer a part of the landscape in New York City," he said. "They're not humane, they're not appropriate to the year 2014. It's over."
Ian McKeever, a driver for 27 years, said, "You know, he doesn't know anything about our business. He's never been to our stables. He's never seen the quality and care we give these horses, so why should I think about him?"
Tourists interviewed by WNYC near the horses and carriages were unhappy as well. "Why would he do something crazy like that?" said David Sojka from Long Island. "I mean, this is part of New York, like Central Park, Bryant PArk, Rockefeller Center. Why would you take away part of it?"
Stephen Malone, spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, said his organization would fight the mayor-elect's plan—first by trying to get legislation introduced in the City Council and then in court.
"You know, walking through Central Park is not inhumane for a horse, not today, not a hundred years ago, and it won't be a hundred years from now," he said.
The carriage business, which centers around tours of Central Park, employs about 300 drivers, 150 of them full time. The carriage operators are represented by the Teamsters, who endorsed de Blasio—but de Blasio was also endorsed by animal activists fighting against the carriage rides. De Blasio said his administration will work with existing drivers to introduce retrofitted antique cars as a substitute tourist attraction.