Hundreds of livery cab drivers rallied outside City Hall Monday and refused to pick up fares, protesting a plan to create a separate group of outer-borough taxis that they say would put them out of business.
The drivers opposed a Taxi and Limousine Commission proposal to sell medallions for 1,500 new cabs in addition to 6,000 yellow cabs that would only pick up passengers outside Manhattan. Livery drivers say they can’t afford the medallions, which can cost several hundred thousand dollars. The TLC hopes the plan would cut down on livery drivers picking up street hails, which is an illegal but common practice.
Cira Angeles, a spokeswoman for the Livery Base Owners Association of New York, which helped organize the rally, said the city should legalize livery cabs pickups in the outer boroughs, a plan Mayor Michael Bloomberg had originally proposed in January, but later backed down from.
“We service the community that the yellow cabs have not served for the last 40 years,” Angeles said. “We just would like to continue doing what we have been doing.”
But there is little common ground across the livery service industry. Fernando Mateo, President of New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, which represents yellow, black and livery cab drivers, did not support the rally.
He said he would welcome a slightly revised version of the mayor’s plan, and up to 10,000 additional cabs outside Manhattan.
“None of the plans that we can introduce are going to be good for everyone and we understand,” Mateo said. “We need a middle ground where our community will afford to get in the game.”
Also Monday Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. offered another plan for a separate taxi service in the outer boroughs that would be cheaper than a regular taxi medallion.
He said the so-called “outer-borough taxi” would be a distinct color – not yellow – and have a meter and the ability to accept credit cards.
TLC Commissioner David Yassky called Diaz’ proposal a “sound approach,” and said the agency would work with him and other officials to “fix the outdated law that prohibits livery cars from serving hailing passengers.”