By Gabriela Resto-Montero
UPPER EAST SIDE — In theory, the taxi stand at East 79th Street and York Avenue should be for everyone. But the cabs that pull up there every morning have just one destination: Wall Street.
The stand is part of the Taxi and Limousine Commission's taxi-share program and cabbies there are supposed to take individuals and groups wherever they please. But many Upper East Side commuters are left to hail a cab next to a line of empty taxis as drivers shepherd riders into their vehicles for group trips to the Financial District.
"There have been times when I've wanted to take a cab there and they only go to Wall Street," said Patty Brown, 54, who said she's lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years. "It's certainly to their advantage not to take a single fare if they don't want to."
Stephen James, 23, lives a block away from the cab stand, but has a hard time finding a ride to his Midtown office in the morning.
"It's confusing," James said. "They say that it's a shared taxi downtown to Wall Street only."
Cab drivers, meanwhile, are under the impression that the stand is solely for Wall Street ride-shares, said Louis Sperandio, a cab driver who said he's operated out of the stand for 10 years.
"Whatever's in line here goes to Wall Street, bottom line," Sperandio said. "They know what they're getting in line for."
But a TLC spokesman confirmed that the stand wasn't meant to take people just to the Financial District. A sign posted at the cab stand reinforces that policy.
Betty Cooper Wallerstein, a Community Board 8 member, brought up the issue before the board's transportation committee last week.
Drivers refusing individual rides goes against the reason the stand was put into place over 18 years ago, which was to provide better transportation to the Upper East Side, Cooper Wallerstein said. She said the elimination for the X90 and X92 buses by the MTA has only increased transit demands.
In response, several board members said they were preparing to meet representatives from TLC to sort out the rules of the stand and to look into clarifying its use with signs, she said.
The TLC launched a taxi-share program earlier this year on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side that takes riders to Grand Central Terminal. The stand on East 79th Street and York Avenue, though, is a pre-existing taxi-share location where rates run $6 per passenger.
The bustling cab stand was doing brisk business Tuesday morning.
"The fact that they have this for people to get to work in 20 minutes and the kids to school is great," said Wendy Cohn, 42, who has used the cab stand to get to work downtown for the past six years. But she has to take the subway home. "I wish they had it coming [uptown]."