NORTHERN MANHATTAN — If Inwood and Harlem are any indication, the city's Five-Borough taxis will be picking riders up very soon.
Several of the apple-green taxis have been spotted roaming the streets of northern Manhattan over the past few weeks as drivers are still putting the finishing touches on their paint jobs and install new electronics in their cabs.
Drivers who spoke to DNAinfo New York said the new colored cabs have taken some getting used to by would-be passengers.
"They were shocked," said new five-borough cab driver Nelson, 67, who said he was given the green light to pick up street hails in Inwood on Thursday. "They asked me: 'What the hell is this?' And then you talk to them and explain."
Nelson, a livery cab driver for 49 years, said that turning his car into a borough taxi cost him big bucks: the new paint job cost $1,350, and a medallion cost over $2,000. Nelson didn't disclose how much the meter and credit-card machine cost, but said that the Taxi and Limousine Commission would reimburse cabbies if they placed an advertisement on top of their cars for a year.
The green taxis are part of the city's new initiative aimed at providing reliable cab service to northern Manhattan and the outer boroughs. A total of 6,000 green cabs — which consist of retrofitted livery cabs — are expected to roll out this year, with a total of 18,000 coming by 2015.
Although the city has not held an official kick-off of the borough taxi program, the taxis have been spotted on Dyckman Street and Broadway in Inwood and St. Nicholas Avenue near 145th Street in Harlem.
TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said while several drivers are close to finishing a street hail livery checklist, that first official hails were still a few days away.
"They’re just around the corner," Fromberg said, adding that cabbies who haven't finished their checklist are not allowed to pick up passengers yet.
"Anyone who responds to a hail and hasn’t yet completed the process and been certified as an official Street Hail Livery risks TLC enforcement action," Fromberg said.