By Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — When Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to legalize some livery pickups during his State of the City address Wednesday afternoon, it sounded a lot like Manhattan residents were out of luck.
But after DNAinfo questioned the mayor's office about why Manhattan residents — particularly those in Upper Manhattan, where it's especially hard to hail a cab — were excluded from a plan to allow livery cabs to make on-street pickups, the administration hurried to clarify their position, saying that all areas of the city would be considered in the new plan.
"The idea is to get livery cabs into the areas that do not have taxi services," said Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna. "We are not excluding Manhattan in any way."
That's good news for Upper Manhattan residents, who heard something a little different during the mayor's speech Wednesday.
"Why shouldn’t someone in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island be able to hail a legal cab on the street?" Bloomberg had asked. "This year, we’ll establish a new category of livery cars that can make on-street pickups outside of Manhattan."
Upper Manhattan residents scoffed at the perceived snub, arguing that hailing a cab can be as challenging there as in the outer boroughs.
"[Yellow cabs] never pick you up unless you're going to the airport," complained Harlem resident Ronnie Lomax, 54, who said being able to pick up livery cabs on the street is a necessity in Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights because other means of public transportation are not always reliable.
But LaVorgna said the mayor did not mean that Manhattan would necessarily be left out, even though the vast majority of those who rely on car services do live in the outer boroughs.
A spokesman for the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), which is working with City Hall on the plan, agreed.
"There's absolutely nothing that precludes us from including Harlem and the other neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan," he said.
He and LaVorgna said the Mayor’s Office is now beginning the long process of working with the City Council to develop legislation that will set out specific rules regarding how the new category of livery pickups will work.
"There will be a process involving the City Council so there will probably be many suggestions about how the program might work, including geographical boundaries," the TLC spokesman said.
Ninety-seven percent of yellow cab pick-ups happen either in Manhattan or at the airports, according to the mayor.