A group of Latino pols took a stand Sunday against a proposal to create 6,000 taxi medallions for yellow cabs that would be allowed to pick up fares only outside Manhattan, saying it would be financially ruinous to livery car drivers and dispatchers.
They’d be cut out of the five-borough taxi plan, as the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission’s proposal is known, because medallions, which are sold at auction, typically go for $650,000 to $1 million.
“This is more than the average mortgage in my district,” City Council Member Julissa Ferreras (D-Queens) said.
Dozens of livery drivers and dispatchers cheered as state Assemblyman Guillermo Linares (D-Manhattan) said street hails of livery cars should be legalized.
“I believe the best proposal was to create a license that would allow livery cabs to pick up hails on the street,” said City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan).
By law, the city’s 22,000 livery cars are only supposed to pick up riders who call dispatchers – but they’re flagged by street hails 150,000 times a day, according to the TLC.
Earlier this year, the TLC crafted a plan to allow livery cabs to pick up street hails outside Manhattan. The livery cars would have been required to install meters and roof lights like yellow cabs, but the cars would have been some other color.
In recent weeks, the plan was abandoned after it generated opposition from yellow cab owners and drivers. If that plan can’t be resurrected, Rodriguez said, livery car stands should be set up in areas where there’s demand for them.
In Rodriguez’s upper Manhattan district, there might be a need for 25 stands, while some nabes might not need any, he said. The city Department of Transportation should do a study to determine where they’d be useful, he added.
There are currently about 13,000 yellow cabs citywide.
About 97% of their pickups are in Manhattan or at city airports, Mayor Bloomberg has said.
The prospect of 6,000 medallions being sold for yellow-cab service outside Manhattan scares owners of livery dispatch companies like Oscar Perez.
“Maybe half our drivers could lose their jobs if this happens,” said Perez, 57, an owner of Union Radios Dispatch in the Highbridge section of the Bronx. The company has 230 drivers.
“A lot of dispatch owners and drivers will have to abandon the industry,” he predicted.