Image courtesy of the offices of Mayor Michael Bloomberg
The hotly-debated plan to sell 18,000 permits for cabs and 2,000 new medallions for wheelchair-accessible cabs to service the five boroughs has crashed.
Last Friday, a judge rejected the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s “Five Borough Taxi Plan,” which would have allowed livery cabs to pick up street hails in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs.
The Granny Smith-colored cabs were the apple of Mayor Bloomberg’s eye. They were set to bring in a much-needed $635 million, although other sources have listed the revenue as high as $1 billion, for this year’s budget.
“The reality is we now have a $635 million hole in our budget because we lose projected revenue from the sale of taxi medallions,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “More importantly, New Yorkers beyond Manhattan, the people who live in our boroughs, are going to be treated like second-class citizens.”
The plan would have opened up cab service to all five boroughs for the first time ever. However, State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron said the city violated the state constitution by circumventing the City Council and getting Albany to approve the taxi plan instead of its own legislature.
The medallion-holding yellow cab drivers are thrilled the judge ruled in their favor.
“We applaud the judge’s decision and we believe we are going to find a solution but not a solution that hurts two industries, that divides two industries,” said Fernando Mateo of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers.
City Hall plans to appeal the decision.
Source: Omnibus, Uris via Wikimedia Commons
New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron put the brakes on city’s plan to create a new class of taxis to serve neighborhoods in Brooklyn, northern Manhattan and other areas.
The judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking Mayor Bloomberg from implementing the city’s Outer Borough Livery Street Hail and Taxi Medallion Plan, otherwise known as the HAIL Law, which was put into effect on June 1.
If enacted, the law would allow 18,000 livery cabs to pick up street-hail passengers outside central Manhattan and bring in about $1 billion to the city’s budget.
The lawsuit was brought on by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade.
“Obviously, anything that affects New York City affects the state in which it is situated, and just as obviously non-New York City residents can (and do, in droves) spend time in New York City. But, generally speaking, these facts cannot satisfy the Home Rule requirements or nothing would be left of the rule but the exceptions, ” wrote Justice Engoron in his ruling.
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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.