2,400 livery car drivers, dispatchers protest against TLC taxi medallion plan
Friday, May 27th 2011
Some 2,400 livery car drivers and dispatchers descended on City Hall Thursday in a raucous protest against a taxi medallion plan they said would ruin them.
Waving signs that said "TLC Will Drive Us Out Of Business" and chanting, they complained a Taxi & Limousine Commission plan to sell 6,000 taxi medallions for yellow cabs to operate outside Manhattan would exclude them. The medallions are auctioned for as much as $1 million.
"We want a legalized and autonomous industry," Pedro Heredia, president of the Livery Base Owners, said in Spanish. He called for the sale of affordable permits or licenses for livery cars, separate from the yellow cab medallions, so livery drivers could legally pick up street hails.
Though they're supposed to respond only to dispatchers' calls, drivers are flagged down in the streets 150,000 times a day, according to the TLC.
"We are not giving up the keys to our cars and our businesses," Cira Angeles of the Livery Base Owners said in Spanish.
There are 22,000 livery cars and 38,000 drivers; many cars are used for double shifts.
"I have three kids, and I'm the head of the house - I can't afford a medallion," livery driver Nelson Espinal, 47, said in Spanish as protesters briefly blocked traffic on Broadway outside City Hall.