Livery Drivers Protest Ticket Blitz in Washington Heights
By Carla Zanoni
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Livery cab drivers took to the streets Wednesday to protest the city’s proposed Five Borough Taxi Plan and call for the end of a recent sting operation targeting illegal street hails.
About 100 drivers gathered on Amsterdam Avenue near W. 180th Street to denounce both initiatives, which they say threaten the livery cab industry.
City records show the Taxi and Limosine Commission has dramatically stepped up enforcement of rules barring livery cabs from making picking up passengers on the street.
Some 256 were drivers ticketed in February, a figure that quadrupled to 1,178 in March.
Damian Rodriguez, president of Inwood's First Class Car and Limo Service says the TLC has increased enforcement uptown.
Cira Angeles, a spokeswoman for the Livery Base Owners Association, agreed that inspectors are out in force.
“You can see there is more presence and they are making a statement,” she said.
The TLC said there is no crackdown, and insisted most of the citations were issued in midtown.
“The majority of the street hails summonses were issued in the central business district of Manhattan,” said TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg.
The move comes on the heels of a city announcement that the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) wants to create a new fleet of approximately 6,000 metered cabs that could pick up street hails in the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan.
Livery cab drivers object to the plan.
They say they should be simply allowed to pick up street hails in Northern Manhattan since they have been working for decades in the area vastly underserved by yellow cabs
“We already have businesses, the model to do the job, we do not need a new element,” Angeles added.
Fromberg said that the commission is willing to work with livery drivers throughout the four boroughs and Upper Manhattan and hopes to find a plan that is agreeable to all.