New dawn for Qns livery cabs after Cuomo signs taxi bill

Taxi drivers demonstrate at New York’s City Hall in opposition to a proposal that would allow livery cabs to make street pickups in the outer boroughs and Upper Manhattan, Monday, June 20, 2011. The yellow-cab drivers chanted “No free rides” and “We pay taxes,” and said a sudden flood of cabs doing street pickups would create unfair competition and could destroy their jobs. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
By Rebecca Henely

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week they had come to an agreement on legislation to allow livery cabs to legally accept street hails in Queens, although two borough officials said they still have problems with the legislation.

“I’m still not clear on what the governor has actually agreed to,” said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

The agreement the mayor and governor reached, which requires the state Legislature to make amendments next session, will enable the city Taxi and Limousine Commission to issue up to 18,000 licenses for cabs that can pick up street hails in the outer boroughs and Upper Manhattan.

The TLC will also be required to make 20 percent of those licenses for handicapped-accessible vehicles and provide grants of up to $15,000 to retrofit vehicles to be handicapped-accessible.

Allan Fromberg, spokesman for the TLC, said no official color for these new liveries had yet been designated.

In addition, the legislation will provide for 2,000 new yellow taxi medallions, all of which will be for handicapped-accessible vehicles.

“The bill as originally passed failed to address the needs of individuals with disabilities and did not provide any incentive for the livery industry to ensure disabled New Yorkers had full access to the taxicab system,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Bloomberg, who had been pushing the new livery cabs since his 2010 State of the City address, said the sale of the new medallions will generate $1 billion in revenue for the city.

“Millions of New Yorkers who have never been able to get a cab in their neighborhoods will have access to safer and less costly taxi service,” he said in a statement.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) said in a statement that she was concerned about how liveries could take both pre-arranged phone calls and street hails, potentially creating a situation where a driver would abandon a call for a hail. She said she hoped this issue and others could be addressed in the new session.

“I welcome the governor’s leadership on this issue and I am sure many of these concerns can be resolved,” she said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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