Southern Brooklyn May Finally Get Street Hail Taxis

Source: wnyc
Source: wnyc

The New York State Supreme Court announced a unanimous decision to approve Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to drastically change the way taxis work across the city. The New York Times is reporting that for the first time ever, a new fleet of green-painted taxis will flit through the outer boroughs and uptown Manhattan to service people who hail them on the streets.

Hailing a taxi outside of Manhattan has always been tricky affair, mainly because it hasn’t been profitable enough for taxi drivers to wind through our streets in search of fares. Meanwhile, livery cabs are barred by law from picking up street hails, leaving a gap in service. Because of the new court ruling, as early as next month, thousands of “apple green” colored taxis will pour into neighborhoods that yellow cabs rarely visit. The decision also allows the city to distribute 18,000 “hail licences” to livery cabs.

Last year, we reported on a lower-court ruling that blocked Bloomberg’s plan. The new decision overturns the previously stalled action and is expected to generate upwards of $1 billion via an auction of 2,000 medallions. The decision also requires that 20 percent of all livery cabs be wheelchair accessible.

Bloomberg hailed the decision as a watershed moment in New York’s history.

“We’re now set to do something that mayors have been trying to accomplish for decades, something that New Yorkers have deserved and never had,” Bloomberg said at a news conference. “And that’s the right to hail a legal taxi in all five boroughs.”

The Times went into detail over the new rules and regulations set down by the court’s decision:

The new plan will regulate an ad hoc and illegal practice that has existed for years. For many residents, it will mean an end to the era of the negotiated fare, where driver and passenger barter through a rolled-down window of a livery cab. David S. Yassky, the city’s taxi commissioner, said the shift would yield “a somewhat better deal” for livery riders on average, citing city research into the underground market for livery cars.
The cabs, which will also be required to accept credit cards, are prohibited from performing street hails in parts of Manhattan (south of East 96th Street and West 110th Street) and at the city’s airports, where yellow taxis tend to cluster. Though the cabs can drop off passengers at these locations, the city said, their meters — equipped with a GPS device — will not operate if a driver tries to begin a trip within the so-called yellow zone.
Mr. Yassky said livery drivers, whose business model has long relied on prearranged fares, could call 311 on Friday to begin the process of obtaining a street-hail license.

It still seems hard to imagine a cluster of green taxis patrolling the streets of Sheepshead Bay, Bensonhurst and other parts of Southern Brooklyn, but it will soon be a reality. Maybe it’ll mean an end to this madness? Probably not.