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Cabbies to protest outer-borough taxi proposal

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Taxi Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hundreds of hacks are expected to rally Monday outside city hall to protest a plan to allow livery cabs to pick up street hails in the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan.

In bills introduced in the Assembly and Senate over the weekend, up to 30,000 so-called “outer-borough” taxi permits would be sold for $1,500 apiece that would allow livery drivers to pick up street hails and continue pre-arranged service. They would also have to get meters and accept credit cards.

But some taxi and livery drivers say the plan would hurt both industries.

Taxi Workers Alliance Director Bhairavi Desai said the proposal decreases the value of taxi medallions, since yellow cabs won’t be the only ones picking up street hails, and that increasing the number of drivers will mean fewer customers on average.

Livery drivers said costs for new meters, credit card fees and workers compensation fees would be excessive and that pre-arranged service would suffer since drivers may be more interested in pursuing street hails than scheduled pickups.

Fernando Mateo, President of New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, which represents yellow, black and livery cab drivers, said the laws should stay as they are.

“If you’re not going to change it to better one or both industries, why change it all?” Mateo said. “We have survived for 40 years together. All of a sudden now, they’re trying to divide us and create a wedge between us.

But the Taxi and Limousine Commission has said that yellow cabs often don’t leave Manhattan, and that illegal street hails are frequent. The TLC pointed out that more than 97 percent of yellow cab pickups are in Manhattan and at airports, where the new outer-borough cabs will not be allowed to get passengers.

“These changes will not only increase availability but also increase passenger protections,” TLC commissioner David Yassky said in a statement, adding that the city will also get hundreds of millions in revenue from the new cab licenses.

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