Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to sign a bill today that will allow livery cab drivers to pick up hailing pedestrians from Brooklyn, Upper Manhattan and other areas poorly served by yellow taxis.
“I think no one thought we would ever get this done,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg – one of the bill’s strongest advocates – told the New York Times. “It’s a huge victory for all New Yorkers who ever sought to hail a cab outside Manhattan and in northern Manhattan.”
The bill will create a new class of taxis that will include metered fares, roof lights, and credit card payments. They are set to make their debut next year.
“I can tell you, as a boy from Queens, the cab service in the outer boroughs is truly difficult,” said the governor.
Eighteen thousand permits for the new livery cabs will be issued by the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, with 2,000 of those new vehicles to be handicapped accessible. The high number of permits issued caused some of the bill’s sponsors to eventually oppose its passage, most notably State Senator Marty Golden.
Also, $54 million in subsidies and loans will be provided by the city to encourage drivers to purchase vehicles that attend to disabled passengers. The public sale of the new medallions are expected to raise at least $1 billion for the city.
With lobbiests for the yellow cab industry opposed to the bill from the beginning, it might still face legal challenges from those who feel that by allowing livery cabs to accept hails from pedestrians, the value of their medallions would decrease and it will also create competition amongst the drivers.
“We hope this new bill has the teeth to protect our industry, and we will cooperate with the governor to achieve this goal,” said the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, a group who opposed the bill.