So there are two amazing things in this photo.
The most important is the shiny green taxi, representing the first time in approximately two decades that metered fares can be regularly found in the area. We spotted this guy yesterday on Sheepshead Bay Road and East 16th Street. Two minutes later, we spotted another one on Avenue Z.
The new taxis have been rolling off the lines and into the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx and uptown Manhattan all month.
Their arrival received little to no fanfare. All we could find online was a New York Post article dated August 9, noting that the first three had hit the streets. The driver of the car photographed above said there was a big influx beginning late last week, the same time his hit the road.
The cabs came about after a long and somewhat bitter dispute between the mayor’s office, who attempted to push through legislation permitting the sale of medallions for the new cabs, and the City Council and industry lobbyists, who wanted to protect the yellow cab industry, for which this is competition. After a legal injunction blocking the sale of new medallions, the mayor’s office finally won out in June.
Of course, the drivers of the new green taxis still have a battle to face. All across the outerboroughs, at subway station and movie theaters and popular nightclubs, livery cabs have been illegally accepting street hails for years, and often dangerously jockeying for better positions on the road. When the taxi above arrived on Sheepshead Bay Road, it first chose a plum spot right in front of the station. But the livery cab drivers, stretching down the block to Citibank, began shouting until he moved to the “end of the line” – which is actually the front of the line, the farthest spot from the station.
When I asked the driver if it bothered him that he, along with 6,000 other cabbies this year, and 18,000 in three years, paid thousands of dollars to get a medallion and convert his vehicle while he still had to compete with illegal livery cab operations, he seemed unfazed.
“It’s something new. People are still used to the livery cabs. But there will be more of us and people will get used to us and it will change,” the driver said. He also noted that metered fares should be cheaper in most cases than the livery counterparts, saying it should be a dollar or two less to get from the station to the movie theater on Knapp Street.
Oh, the second amazing thing in that photo? Sheepshead Bay has a Zach Galifianakis lookalike.