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Mysterious White Flags Fly Above the Brooklyn…

New Five-Borough Taxi Plan Has Local Cab Drivers Worried

Bloomberg proposal riles many

In a bid to increase taxi service for residents in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, Mayor Bloomberg and the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) are looking to create a new livery taxi program that aims to improve taxi availability around the city.

The five-borough plan now under consideration by the city would establish a new category for livery drivers that allows them to respond to dispatched calls and make street pick ups anywhere within the five boroughs, while ensuring that they are held to the same set of fare and safety guidelines already assigned to yellow cabs.

Currently, it is illegal for livery cars to make on-street pickups outside of Manhattan.

However, yellow cab drivers in Bed-Stuy, already frustrated with increasing gas prices, strict city rules on maintaining their cabs and high license and inspection fees, aren’t welcoming the idea of increased competition for fares.

“We don’t like this, it’s going to effect our business,” said Bebo Bessuno, a yellow cab driver awaiting a ride on Atlantic Avenue. “We already call our dispatchers about black cars picking up people from the street when they’re not supposed to. Before someone had to call them to get them to do a pickup, but now they’re going to allow it.”

Other drivers shared the sentiment on how more cabbies on the streets will effect their livelihood. Cab drivers often work 10 – 12 hour shifts just to get by.

“What can I do?” said Jose Roman, a driver letting off a fare on Fulton Street. “With the city it’s always something.”

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, the largest taxi driver union in the country, is also speaking out with members getting together last week to express their frustration with the TLC plan.

Citing concerns for passenger safety, the group claims that many black car drivers ride around unlicensed and often hail fares in old, outdated vehicles, while yellow cabs come with a guarantee of a well-maintained car along with a fully trained and licensed driver.

If the mayor’s program is passed, black cars would be outfitted with a new color, metered fares and credit/debit card payment machines.

And while local drivers are concerned about the effect the new rules will have on their wallets, independent taxi companies around Bed-Stuy who rent their vehicles to drivers are also wary.

“It’s going to be bad for the organized businesses,” said Jacob, a dispatcher at the Pacific Express Car Service on 4th Avenue. “Because everybody can do whatever they want to do and we can’t dispatch because the customers are going to be busy picking up someone from the street and not everything’s going to be registered.”

PaultheCabDriver April 14, 2011 at 09:17 PM
The best solution to the whole problem is to eliminate the whole medallion system and the TLC itself. Allow consumers to chose their own transportation, and allow the free market to work. It won't be perfect. There will still be accidents, there will still be rude cab drivers, there will still be overcharging. But the marketplace does a much better job of weeding out bad companies and bad service providers than any bureaucracy ever has done. If the TLC could do its job, these problems would have been solved years ago. But centralized, regulated, command economics cannot work because there are too many variables to contend with. Only free actors allowed to act in a free environment can come close to meeting the transportation needs of NYC. Many cities and countries around the world are finding this out at last and are deregulating their transportation industries. It is high time New York did the same.
Justive April 15, 2011 at 03:45 PM
A “free market system” is not magic. The medallion system was created in 1937 because there was chaos in the streets with over saturation of cabs, no one could earn a living, organized crime and shoddy service. The problems stem directly from the City’s failure to keep its promise and civic obligation to protect small business men like cab drivers from illegal competition and the public from dangerous vehicles that do not have adequate for hire insurance, if any.
Abie April 16, 2011 at 01:28 PM
The article above says: Currently, it is illegal for livery cars to make on-street pickups outside of Manhattan. Lets get the facts correct: They are only legal to do prearranged calls anywhere in The City of New York. They can Not make street pickups anywhere. If the city enforced the rules the medallion taxis would then be able to do what is necessary to please all!

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