Livery Cab Street Hail Plan Blocked

Livery cab lawsuit NYC
Source: Omnibus, Uris via Wikimedia Commons

New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron put the brakes on city’s plan to create a new class of taxis to serve neighborhoods in Brooklyn, northern Manhattan and other areas.

The judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking Mayor Bloomberg from implementing the city’s Outer Borough Livery Street Hail and Taxi Medallion Plan, otherwise known as the HAIL Law, which was put into effect on June 1.

If enacted, the law would allow 18,000 livery cabs to pick up street-hail passengers outside central Manhattan and bring in about $1 billion to the city’s budget.

The lawsuit was brought on by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade.

“Obviously, anything that affects New York City affects the state in which it is situated, and just as obviously non-New York City residents can (and do, in droves) spend time in New York City.  But, generally speaking, these facts cannot satisfy the Home Rule requirements or nothing would be left of the rule but the exceptions, ” wrote Justice Engoron in his ruling.

Engoron, who was a cab driver during his college days, went on to state that, “This Court has trouble seeing how the provision of taxi service in New York City is a matter of that can be wrenched from the hands of City government, where it has resided for some 75 years and handed over to the State.”

The MTBOT group issued a statement on the Justice’s decision:

“By preventing the Taxi and Limousine Commission from issuing any outer borough street hail permits, the Court has prevented a trampling of the New York State Constitution as well as an economic disaster for more than 5,000 individual taxi driver-owners and thousands more taxi owners and cabbies who invested their life savings into what they regarded as the American Dream – the taxi medallion.

We applaud the Court’s decision and our colleagues in the yellow taxi industry who have also brought suits– and we especially acknowledge the brave and principled Council Member Lewis Fidler and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio who stood for good government where TLC Chairman David Yassky and the City of New York did not.”

TLC Commissioner David Yassky said the decision was “unfortunate,” according to Transportation Nation.

“We share the disappointment of the 80 percent of New Yorkers who live and work outside Manhattan and are waiting for safe, legal and reliable taxi service as well as the thousands of livery drivers who stand ready to provide that service,” Yassky said.

The city even designated a color for the new street hails, “Apple Green,” but it looks like those taxis won’t be hitting the streets anytime soon.