Source: mikealex/Flickr

A lawsuit brought by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade against the city for its plan to create a new class of “outerborough” taxicabs was amended on Friday, adding City Councilman Lew Fidler as a plaintiff in the case.

The trade association, which represents the owners of nearly 4,000 taxicabs, has also requested a preliminary injunction to prevent the city from issuing the new medallions before the court decides on whether or not the plan – known as the HAIL Law – is unconstitutional and in violation of the city’s agreement with existing medallion owners.

“I have been against the plan to provide outer borough taxi service from the start, as it is a ‘solution in search of a problem,” Fidler states in his affidavit. “In my 10 years as a City Council member, I have never gotten a call asking me why a citizen can’t hail a cab on the streets of Marine Park.”

The affidavit goes on: “I am a Plaintiff in this action, however, not merely because the HAIL Law is a bad policy, but because the HAIL Law is unconstitutional. The HAIL Law violates New York City’s right to Home Rule. Most fundamentally, it interferes with the City of New York’s right to regulate taxicabs and liveries and the City Council’s right to decide when to issue new medallions. Instead, the State Legislature has set regulations for livery cabs and has transferred the right to issue new taxicab medallions to the Mayor.”

According to a press release from the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, their legal challenge rests on the following arguments:

  • The bypassing of the “home rule message” that has been provided by the New York City Council for every other taxi medallion bill but was ignored for reasons of political expediency.
  • Further relinquishment of traditional and constitutionally protected City Council powers to the Mayor with regard to the issuance and regulation of medallions.
  • The violation of the “exclusive privileges and immunities” clause which is meant to, among other things, prevent one exclusive group of people from unfairly benefiting financially from a City issued asset – in this case livery hail permits.

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  • Jen

    I’m extremely disappointed in Fidler for doing this.  As a longtime resident of outer Brooklyn, I LOVE the idea of being able to hail cars on the street.  Getting home, especially at hours where the subway and buses barely run, can be a nightmare.  The yellow cabs have long had zero regard for people who live in outer Brooklyn.  They regularly refuse to take me anywhere, and reporting them via 311 is a long, tedious process that ultimately accomplishes nothing.  Why are you defending them, Councilman Fidler?  They’ve ignored us, and now livery cabs want to step up and pick up the slack.  Let them!  Why on earth would we allow yellow cabs to continue to get away with ignoring our neighborhoods?

    • Arthur Borko

      Because the wrong approach is being taken. Instead of creating a new class of license the city should just allow livery cabs to make street pickups in the outerboros as is, with no new rules or regulations. If a cab pulls up the fare must be negotiated in advance. If you’re not willing to pay what they are asking nobody forces you to get in the cab. You can phone a car service or wait for another.

      That’s the way it should be. The way the city is doing it is going to make it more expensive not less.

  • Barb

    If Mr. Fidler is against this, then, he is more than welcomed to pick me up and drive me wherever I want.  He did not help us restore any local and express bus cut backs, why should he help us now?

  • BrooklynBus

    I usually agree with Fidler but this time he is dead wrong. Aside from legalities which Fidler feels this would violate, how come he has no problem with car services breaking the law every day to pick up street hails? And what kind of idiotic reasoning is he using that no one has complained to him about this all these years? No one as complained because they didn’t believe the City would ever try to correct this problem. Since when is City government only supposed to act on complaints? Lew, when was the last time someone complained to you that our taxes were too low? Has that stopped you for voting for increased real estate and sales taxes every few years?

  • a good neighbor

    i think 95% of folks living in Marine Park drive everywhere, but the remaining 5% who do depend on public transportation most of the time. Like others said, it is very helpful if you are able to hail a cab at odd hours to get to where you want to go safely and quickly. 

    • Lew from Brooklyn

      I actually do have very lengthy answers to each point here.

      There are zones, such as the terminus of the train line, or certain shopping centers, where allowing limited street pick ups makes sense. This can be accomplished by permitting with liveries within the zone, and not requiring an unconstitutional taking of rights that were fairly sold to medallion holders.

      Further, the notion of outer boro cab service as providing cars that are patrolling the streets looking for a street hail—well, cmon folks. If you live in the neighborhood, you know the number of your favorite car service. They come and pick you up where you stand and take you where you need to go. What will happen with these new lime green fellows is that they will mimic dollar vans, patrolling bus routes, darting in and out, honking at you on the street during rush hours. (Try to call your car service and get a car during those hours then!)

      This will only encourage the MTA to cut more buses on these routes. Increased traffic. Increased pollution. Worse public transit.

      The TLC already is unable to enforce rules against dollar vans. In what universe do we need this?

      Last, if I as the Councilman had the power to restore MTA service on the express bus, I would. My letters to the MTA asking for it only do so much with an authority that unfortunately answers, apparently, to no one.

      However, as a Councilman, I should have had a role in crafting this policy—-except that the Mayor chose to go aound the Council and allow Albany to cut this deal.

      It unfairly takes the property of medallion owners. It hurts public transportation. In increases congestion….and in most neighborhoods—like ours—helps no one get around.

      There was a better solution. This one was the classic burning down a farm house to roast an egg.

      Lew from Brooklyn

      • Andrew

        There’s no unconstitutional taking of rights here. (If there were, then allowing limited street pickups, as you suggest, would violate those very same rights.) But we’ll let the courts work that out.

        The MTA cut service because our elected officials have decided to use the MTA as a piggy bank rather than finding a way to adequately and stably fund our transit system. How’s that 9 CARAT STONE Plan doing?

        • Lew from Brooklyn

          Still better than Congestion Pricing.

          • Andrew

            Congratulations! You succeeded in your valiant efforts of ensuring that nothing improve about our system of funding transit. I see that your 9 CARAT STONE Plan was never intended to be a serious plan at all.

            And now you’re also working to ensure that your constituents who would like to hail cabs in their own borough are unable to do so.

            If you had taken leadership on tough issues – which means sometimes taking short-term risks for long-term goals – you would have won the election two months ago by a landslide.

          • Andrew

            @16056a9db1b5036a2de16efdeed83768:disqus And you didn’t even need a landslide. You needed 14 votes.

      • Arthur Borko

        Lew, I drove car service in brooklyn for 10 years and I’m glad you’re trying to get rid of this bill.

        Please encourage the city to simply informally lift the ban on street hails and allow existing Private Car Services to pick up customers in the outer boros. 

        We don’t need new rules and regulations, fines and license fees. It’s extra bureaucratic for no reason. 

        The Yellow Cabs (HACKS) have no interest in competing fairly, if they are so concerned then they can leave the city and drive around the streets to compete for those jobs.

      • Local Broker

        You know whats unconstitutional? denying people the right to work. Some guy in a car service wants to pick someone up at the train station and politicians say no way. Hows that for freedom? You cant do anything without the Govt. taxing you in some way either by fees, fines and even bribes. Tobacco stores closing, barber shops being fined, no food at bayfest because of permits, no smoking, no fat. You politicians are worse than gangsters, at least they had some type of honor and when someone said something you lived or died by your words. You guys say whatever you want with no repercussions. Worst case you dont get elected again and go on to work at any number of companies you helped while you were in office. Denying people their right to put food on the table without having to pay someone off is unconstitutional.     

  • Peppertree5706

    This is about economics (money). Medallion cabs do not want increased competition. Councilman Fidler will receive some kind of remuneration or help (legal, I am sure) for his effort to preserve the monopoly that medallion cabs have on street pickups. Unfortunately, most of his constituents will not benefit from that.

    Remember this when it is time to vote for a council seat.

    • Kew from Brooklyn

      I just wonder whether any of you who have commented are aware of what a taxi medallion actually is. It is the (highly paid for) exclusive right to pick up street passengers in the City of New York. THAT is what the government sold them. That is what it IS.

      Andrew, I won’t debate the law with you. Courts will allow limited takings. In this case, the new law will virtually vitiate the entirety of the property right that was sold. For an appropriate and limited purpose, a restriction of the broader right might be permissible whereas the complete vitiation of that right might not be.

      Just the facts.

      • nolastname

        Not only did the gov. sell them they also mandated how many will be allowed, driving the value up and seemingly worth the huge investment. Snakes aren’t they?

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  • Innocent

    Happy Fidler lost.
    Cymbrowitz shoud be next

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  • Art Works

    TLC doesn’t do anything for owners nor passengers. All they do is collect revenue from thier stupid rules. Vehicle owners buy cars, register and insure them, get driver’s licenses to drive these vehicles and follow rules and laws of the road. Why do they have to get extra licenses on top of other licenses in order to work? They are still paying taxes and collect sales taxes on behalf of IRS.