Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday signed the historic five-borough taxi legislation, a bill that allows livery cab drivers to make on-street pick-ups outside of the Manhattan business district and in the outer boroughs.
The plan, proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier this year has the aim of making cabs more accessible outside of Midtown by making available18,000 new livery street hail permits that will allow drivers to pick up passengers legally on the street.
“It’s a huge victory for all New Yorkers who ever sought to hail a cab outside Manhattan and in northern Manhattan,” said the mayor.
The new law also will generate billions of dollars in revenue for the City through the sale of 2,000 new yellow medallions, all of which will be wheelchair accessible. The agreement increases the number of medallions sold by 500 over the original bill passed in June.
Taxi medallions are the most coveted possession of any cab driver or company, as they are an official, legal recognition of taxi’s ability to do street hails. Most livery taxi companies do not own medallions. And although many livery drivers do street hails, technically, it is illegal.
However, many livery cab drivers oppose the new legislation, calling the mayor’s new plan too expensive, because once available, medallions are sold through auctions and go for an average of $700,000 each.
“We support the state to vote for and approve 1,500 more medallions to the yellow taxi industry. We are fine with that,” said City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez at a City Hall rally of 700 liver cab drivers last May. “But what about the livery taxi industry? This is nothing related to affordable when the people from the livery taxi industry are making $15,000 - $25,000 a year. Who can afford a medallion for $600,000 - $1 million? Who’s going to give them a loan for that?”
But the mayor says the benefits of passing the bill far outweigh the costs.
“It will also bring thousands of hard-working livery drivers – many of them immigrants – out of the shadows and into the legal economy,” said Bloomberg. “This will benefit both drivers, but also taxpayers and subway riders, because the new taxis – like all current taxis – will generate revenue that is dedicated to the MTA.
“It will positively impact our city’s quality of life for decades to come.”