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Carriage Horses Will Only Operate in Central Park Under Compromise

By  Shaye Weaver and Alexandra Leon | January 18, 2016 10:45am 

 The number of horse-drawn carriages will be reduced and limited to operation in Central Park, according to an agreement reached this week.
The number of horse-drawn carriages will be reduced and limited to operation in Central Park, according to an agreement reached this week.
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DNAinfo/Shaye Weaver

CENTRAL PARK — The city's controversial horse-drawn carriage industry will no longer be allowed to operate outside Central Park and the number of carriages will be cut by more than half in the next two years under a deal between city officials and the Teamsters Union, the two sides announced Monday.

The agreement is the product of a long-running negotiation between the carriage industry and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who vowed to do away with horse-drawn carriages as part of his campaign.

Under the compromise, the city agreed to build a new stable in Central Park to house 75 horses and 68 carriages by Oct. 1, 2018. And starting this June, the hansom carriage drivers would no longer be allowed to pick up passengers outside the park.

"We are pleased that at the end of an exhaustive process, all sides in this negotiation were able to come to an amicable agreement that both removes horses from the dangers of city traffic and saves the jobs of many in the horse carriage industry," Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Daniel Dromm said in a joint statement. "Working out the logistics of this agreement will be key in reaching an outcome that is suitable to all parties involved."

The decrease in horses will start gradually this year on Dec. 1, with the number of licenses decreasing from 180 to 110.

Once the Central Park stable opens in 2018, the maximum number of horses is expected to drop to 95 — including 75 horses that will have a long-term home in the park.

Horses that aren't working must be placed on furlough outside of the city and donors will pay for the horses to go to good homes, de Blasio said.

The horses' workdays will also be reduced — carriages will operate nine hours a day in any 24-hour period, beginning Dec. 1, which increases the time window for shifts and includes operation during Central Park hours, according to the agreement.

Carriages that operate after 6 p.m. between Nov. 15 and Jan. 5th, as well as on Valentine's Day and Easter, will be able to charge an extra $5, the agreement states.

Starting June 1 this year, the Parks Department and the Department of Transportation will install hack stands in Central Park at entrances and horse carriages may only operate inside Central Park with the exception of travel to and from their existing stables.

Pedicabs will also be barred in Central Park below the 85th Street Transverse as of June 1.

A hearing on the legislation will be held, but a date has not yet been set. The cost of building the Central Park stable has not been laid out yet either, City Council spokesman Eric Koch said.

De Blasio, the City Council, Teamsters Joint Council 16 and Teamsters Local 553 are still hammering out the details of the agreement.

"We look forward to working together on the final details of this legislation and getting this passed," the two sides said in a joint statement.

The mayor commented on the agreement during a press Q&A at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday morning.

"Horses do not belong on the streets of the biggest city in the country in the middle of midtown traffic," he said, citing congestion and safety as why the city will contain horses to Central Park. "We think this is going to be a solid change for this city on many levels."

He called the move “progress” but said it wasn’t everything he wanted.

"The Council had strong views," he said. "There’s a lot of give and take. We made some modifications based on their concerns.”