New ‘Boro’ Cabs Make Street Pickups
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) Chairman and Commissioner David S. Yassky and members of the livery car industry unveiled on Sunday, Apr. 29, the official color for the new “Boro Taxis”: apple green.
The Boro Taxis will bring legal taxi service to the seven million New Yorkers who live outside Manhattan’s Central Business District by licensing 18,000 livery vehicles to, for the first time, legally pickup street hail passengers in the “outer boroughs” and northern Manhattan.
The announcement follows the TLC’s approval last week of regulations codifying the authorizing State legislation, which was proposed by Bloomberg and became law in February.
“For decades, the goal of bringing better taxi service to residents and visitors outside of Manhattan eluded the city,” said Bloomberg. “With our legislation to bring taxi service outside of Manhattan becoming law, at long last New Yorkers in all five boroughs will have safe, comfortable, less costly and legal street hail service as apple green Boro Taxis will begin appearing on our streets. The new apple green vehicles will bring thousands of hard-working livery drivers out of the shadows and into the legal economy, increase transportation options for those in need of accessible vehicles and, put simply, will bring more basic fairness to our transportation system.”
“Apple green is very fitting for the new Boro Taxis,” said Yassky. “It’s pleasing to the eye, easy to see from a distance and blends well with the urban landscape. Just as the yellow taxi and the black car were once new services that became a trusted part of their users’ lives, the Boro Taxi, too, will take its long-awaited place as a part of the city’s comprehensive transportation network.”
The Boro Taxi concept was proposed by Bloomberg in his 2011 State of the City Address to reduce the inequality in taxi service that exists for residents and visitors of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and northern Manhattan. While it is currently illegal for livery cars to respond to street hails or solicit passengers, the TLC estimates more than 100,000 illegal hails take place each day.
The city will make a total of 18,000 Boro Taxi permits available, with the first of three annual batches of 6,000 to be issued starting in June 2012. The permits will cost applicants $1,500 each and will be valid for three years.
The first 6,000 permits will be available solely to already-licensed livery drivers and vehicle owners who have been successfully serving their communities and 20 percent of the total permits issued will be earmarked for use specifically with wheelchair accessible vehicles, with the city offering a $15,000 subsidy to assist operators in covering the cost differential as compared to non-accessible vehicles.
Participation in this program will be optional, with livery bases and drivers having the ability to continue to provide service in their communities via prearrangement only, should they choose to do so.
In addition to the distinctive apple green exterior, the vehicles will be equipped with credit card machines, roof lights for greater visibility and to signal availability, unique markings to further identify it as a licensed vehicle, taximeters to standardize the fare-which will be the same as in all yellow taxicabs-and GPS vehicle location devices to help with the return of lost property and automatic collection of trip data to ensure the vehicles only make pickups outside of Manhattan’s Central Business District.
Permit holders may “cruise” for hail fares in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, and Manhattan, north of East 96th and West 110th streets.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission will continue aggressive enforcement against drivers who illegally pick passengers up off the street with a zero tolerance policy for any unlicensed and illegal hail services. Unlicensed operators face hundreds of dollars in fines, as well as the seizure of their vehicles, at the hands of a highly-mobile TLC Enforcement Division, which has recently increased its staff.
Operators interested in obtaining a Boro Taxi license should monitor the TLC’s website on www.nyc.gov or call 311 for updated information on applications. Eligible applicants will be able to begin the application process for Borough Taxi licenses on a “first-come first-served” basis beginning on May 29.