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Taxi Plan Would Legalize Street Hails Uptown

By DNAinfo Staff on June 19, 2011 3:30pm  | Updated on June 20, 2011 7:01am

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — Hailing a livery cab in Upper Manhattan could soon become legal.

New legislation introduced in the Assembly and Senate Saturday would grant up to 30,000 new street hail permits that would allow livery cab owners to pick up passengers on the street in Upper Manhattan as well as in the outer boroughs.

The $1,500 permits would allow street pickups in north of East 96th Street and north of West 110th Street and would be valid for three years.

TLC Commissioner David Yassky said the legislation "would provide the 80 percent of New Yorkers who live outside of Manhattan with legal, safe and reliable options when they want to hail a cab."

"As the Mayor said in January, we are a city of five boroughs, and it's long past time that we have equitable taxi service in all five boroughs," he said.

Nearly all taxi pickups are in Manhattan and at the airports. 

In addition to creating a new class of livery cabs, the legislation would also add 1,500 new yellow cab medallions, meant to bring in hundreds of millions in new revenue.

Of the 1,500 medallions, 569 would be reserved for disability-accessible cars. The city currently has 13,237 yellow cabs.

The proposed legislation drew praise from the Livery Base Owners.

"Livery base owners and drivers across the five boroughs overwhelmingly support the plan and acknowledge the hard work and deliberation that has gone into this final proposal by the state legislature," said president Perdo Heredia and spokeswoman Cira Angeles in a statement.

But the move was slammed by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

"We are devastated by this proposal," said the group's executive director Bhairavi Desai.

"Taxi drivers who labor 12-hour shifts and today already earn below a living wage will be crushed."

Desai estimates that yellow cab drivers will lose up to nine fares a day, "at a cost of $60 - $80 daily loss in income for workers who currently average $100 - $120 take-home pay."

Under the legislation, the city would begin selling the new licenses after July 1 next year.

The proposal comes after months of back-and-forth between the livery and yellow cab industries that had left the city so frustrated that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had threatened to escalate a ticketing blitz on both sides to force them into agreeing on a new medallion plan.