MANHATTAN — City officials Sunday unveiled the newest member of the taxi fleet — a green cab that will serve the outer boroughs.
The unveiling of the new ride — a far cry from the black livery cabs that are commonly seen now — comes just days after a plan to allow livery drivers to take street hails received the green light from the Taxi & Limousine Commission.
"Today is a great accomplishment for us," said Mark Goldstein, 33, a spokesman for the Association of Independent Taxi Drivers New York.
"It's an investment to our future. We're glad that there will now be legal enforcement so we can protect all of the drivers that are going to make an investment in this industry."
The plan to allow livery drivers to pick up street hails has come under fierce opposition from the city's yellow cab drivers, who have argued that the move undercuts what they believe is an exclusive right to pick up street hails in the city.
They also say that it undermines the value of the medallions that they are required to have.
Under the plan, the city will make 18,000 borough taxi permits available for areas underserved by yellow cabs.
Drivers will be able to pick up street hails in the outer boroughs as well as in Manhattan north of East 96th Street on the East Side and 110th Street on the West Side.
"For decades, the goal of bringing better taxi service to residents and visitors outside of Manhattan eluded the city," Mayor Bloomberg said.
"With our legislation to bring taxi service outside of Manhattan becoming law, at long last New Yorkers in all five boroughs will have safe, comfortable, less costly and legal street hail service as the Green Apple Boro Taxis will begging appearing on our streets."
Apple green was chosen for the new cabs, which drivers have the option to buy, because "the color is pleasing to the eye, easy to see from a distance and blends well with the urban landscape," said TLC Commissioner David Yassky.
Officials said that the new Toyota cabs will be equipped with credit card machines, roof lights for visibility and to signal availability, unique markings to further identify them as a licensed cab, meters and GPS devices.
"These vehicles will bring thousands of hard working livery drivers out of the shadows and into the legal economy, increasing transportation options for those in need and will bring more basic fairness to our transportation system," Mayor Bloomberg said.
Harlem cabbie Ruth Felipe, 44, who has been driving for 16 years, was thrilled with the new ride.
"We are very happy for this victory. It's a great day for all of us."