Southern Brooklyn

Livery Cab Street Hail Plan Faces Court Challenge

Source: mikealex/Flickr

The city’s plan to roll out a new class of taxi to serve neighborhoods in Brooklyn, northern Manhattan and other areas poorly served by yellow cabs, is now heading to court, courtesy of a lawsuit filed by a lobbying group representing the largest yellow medallion taxi fleets.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in New York State Supreme Court by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, claims that the outerborough street hail livery plan, passed into law by Albany legislators in Feburary, violates the rights of medallion owners who paid for exclusive rights to pick up street hails in New York City.

The proposal would create a new class of taxi medallion for up to 18,000 livery drivers, giving them the right to pick up street hails in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and northern Manhattan – areas previously underserved by yellow cabs that clog the city’s financial and tourist areas. It also permits the city to issue 2,000 new yellow taxi medallions.

The privileges for livery cabs will unfairly reward a culture of bad behavior from livery cabbies who “poach” street hails from yellow cabs, the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade claims, and will hurt the livelihood of yellow cab owners who will now have to compete with the new livery class as well as 2,000 new yellow cabs.

“The street hail livery rules are unconstitutional, irresponsible and unconscionable,” said Ron Sherman, president of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade. “How can the City of New York sell medallions to thousands of individual owner-drivers and small businesses, promising them the exclusive right to pick up street hails, only to take that right away in one destructive piece of legislation?”

The group is also claiming that the process in which the legislation was enacted was unconstitutional, violating a “Home Rule” procedure, in which legislation affecting only one locality can only be passed in the state legislature once the local legislative body has given its stamp of approval. There was no City Council vote on the issuance of new medallions, and no public hearing.

“How can the City do this without a single public hearing, without the authorization of the City Council, and without a single economic study on its effects on this industry comprised mostly of immigrants who have pursued the American dream by working hard, saving their earnings and playing by the rules?” Sherman asked.

What do you think? Is this legislation that will hurt the business of yellow cab drivers? Or will the bill provide service for areas where the yellow cabs were not serving anyway?

Comment policy


  1. Really? The Yellow Hack cabs from the city aren’t going to lose a single dime over this because they never bother hanging around the outer boroughs to pick up hails.

    The people that are gonna be hurt most from this are the livery cab drivers/owners. Where as before the street hail rule was primarily ignored in the 4 other boroughs now you can be your bottom the dollar the TLC will span out to enforce the rule and fine businesses into oblivion.

    If existing businesses want to participate they cant as is! Now they need new cars and meters installed and I’m gonna guess a different kind of insurance too? 

    This entire damned thing is just a money grab by the city. Hack Cabs be damned they could have simply lifted the ban in the outer boroughs or put a simple fee to get a base license for it. Why force meters? Livery cabs should be telling their customers the fare up front, if a customer doesn’t agree don’t get in the cab. Metered cabs are easier to manipulate to inflate the price for the customer and takes control of the prices out of the hands of that customer. 

    You can’t predict or affect traffic after all. Having a solid fare no matter how long it takes to get somewhere is better then the farce currently in place anyway.

    It’s just a sick money grab.

  2. This is a mess for which the city is to blame.Instead of increasing the number of medallions over the years,they kept it artificially low.This led to the skyrocketing values of medalions.So over the years the taxi industry,has fought issuing new ones,for their own benefit. If the city had let a free market for medallions,exist,there would be many more taxis on the streets.

  3. I think this leads into a much bigger problem than the taxi industry. The City/Govt. is taxing and fining people for every little thing they do. You cant even go out and sell lemonade legally without a permit. Is that fucking nuts or what? These people are complaining about more medallions being issued and its going to cost them. The market will speak for itself. Why doesn’t the city limit the amount of pharmacies or cell phone stores? Because its un-American. Kids or adults trying to make an honest buck cant sell water on the beach in the summer without facing the possibility of a fine. There should be a legit process to getting into any business but it shouldnt be capped by some politician or businessman. Do we need regulation so everyone plays by the rules? Yes. But give me a fair chance to get into the game.    

  4. This proposed system may have its problems but it’s better than no system at all which is what we have now because livery services are not allowed to pick up his off the street. If the taxi industry as a problem with this new system, let them just start picking up riders outside Manhattan like the used to in the 1950s and 60s. They refuse and get angry when the City wants to let others do what they should have been doing all along. I have zero sympathy for yellow cab drivers.

  5. While I do sympathize with the yellow owner-operators whose equity in their medallions has been sucker punched by the City’s policy changes, the industry’s petulant attitude is like rent-gouging landlords complaining about competition from affordable housing programs.  The bottom line is that, in any public or publicly regulated service delivery system, the people’s interests come first and foremost, even if some business people who have invested speculatively sustain a loss.  Add to this the disproportionately adverse impact the current system has on disabled travelers, and the increasingly costly and problematic Access-a-Ride program, these remedies are a no-brainer that is long overdue.  Yes, driving a cab in NYC, whether yellow or livery, is a tough and dangerous job with long hours and relatively low pay, but, in a city as large and as populous as NYC, there will still be enough business to go around such that cabbies will be able to make a living and passengers will be able to find cabs and ride at rates they can afford.  

  6. 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.

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