Village trustees in Floral Park are mulling whether to renew a contract with a local taxi service, but first want reassurances that the taxi drivers won't double-park on Verbena Avenue or use vehicles that are older than seven years.
Officials with Floral Park-based AAA Taxi came to a trustees' board meeting Tuesday asking for a three-year contract that allows the company to charge $6 per mile for trips. AAA Taxi’s current contract allows $3.50 per mile with a 50 cents per mile fuel charge.
Karen Svendsen, a Bay Shore-based attorney representing AAA Taxi, said the company needs the $6 to compete with app-based ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft. She said traditional taxi companies must be regulated by state laws that require vehicle inspections, proof of insurance, 24-hour dispatchers and more.
“However, transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft — and other transportation network companies where there is an app involved — are allowed to be treated differently,” Svendsen said. “The $3.50 is not adequate at this point.”
Trustees withheld their vote Tuesday after expressing concerns about the current AAA Taxi contract, particularly that the company's vehicles are double parking along Verbena Avenue and that some vehicles in use are older than what is allowed in the contract.
AAA Taxi cannot use vehicles older than seven years. However, three of those in the company's 17-vehicle fleet are over the limit, owner Richard Vitello said. Some vehicles are in good condition, but others are "older and not seemingly as in good mechanical condition and are maybe making noises," said trustee Lynn Pombonyo.
Double-parking is an issue because the fire department accesses the village’s north, south and Hillcrest areas from Verbena, said trustee Archie Cheng. If the contract is renewed, Svendsen said AAA Taxi will make sure double-parking no longer happens.
Mayor Dominick Longobardi indicated the contract renewal depends on it.
“I want to make sure that those issues are going to be addressed before we again renew this agreement,” Longobardi told Svendsen. “I need to be assured and the residents need to be assured that that’s going to be taken care of and will not happen going forward.”