Saturday, June 25, 2011

Senate OKs plan allowing livery cabs to accept borough street hails

Saturday, June 25th 2011, 4:00 AM

Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally scored a victory in Albany after lawmakers there passed his livery cab plan Friday.
Ken Goldfield for News
Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally scored a victory in Albany after lawmakers there passed his livery cab plan Friday.

ALBANY - Throw your hand up, Mayor Bloomberg finally won one in Albany!

His plan to allow livery cab drivers to accept street hails in the outer boroughs finally got approval from the Senate last night - a gift to residents still fuming over the city's botched response to the Dec. 26 blizzard.

The Assembly approved the proposal earlier in the week.

The Legislature, on its final night of the session, also adopted a four-year extension of the state's rent regulations, a cap on property tax increases - and tuition hikes at SUNY and CUNY.

Starting in January, livery drivers can take street hails in the outer boroughs and in upper Manhattan - so long as they charge passengers the same 50-cent-per-ride MTA surcharge that yellow cab drivers charge.

"You had to make it a level playing field," said state Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who sponsored the bill.

The measure now heads to Gov. Cuomo, who has yet to take a position on it, spokesman Josh Vlasto said.

Bloomberg, who hurriedly introduced the measure last weekend, argued the measure would improve taxi service outside of Manhattan - and would provide up to $1 billion in new tax revenue for the city.

"Starting next year, transportation options for New Yorkers who live in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and upper Manhattan will improve dramatically," Bloomberg said in a statement.

Hizzoner's team estimated the new deal would also generate millions for the cash-strapped MTA.

The legislation authorizes up to 30,000 permits for livery drivers to pick up street hails in parts of upper Manhattan and the other boroughs. The permits would cost $1,500.

The bill also allows the Taxi and Limousine Commission to sell up to 1,500 new yellow cab medallions.

Yellow cab drivers complained the measure would deprive them of business and dilute the value of their medallions.

"Today, the state Senate made a terrible mistake that, if not corrected, will upend the 100-year-old yellow taxicab industry," the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade said in a statement.

Golden held out hope those concerns could still be addressed before the law takes effect.

Bloomberg's proposal came after he was rebuked by state lawmakers this year on key issues of pension reform, state aid cuts and changing the last-in-first-out law governing teacher layoffs.

No comments: