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Monday, June 6, 2011

Bronx BP Diaz Offers Up Alternative to 'Unacceptable' Taxi Hailing Situation

Acting as a mediator between the city and an irate livery cab industry, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. attempted today to provide some middle ground for negotiations on a plan to bring legal street hails to New York City's outer boroughs. 

In a conference call with reporters, Diaz said the current extremes in the debate -- between the "status quo," which makes it illegal for livery cabs to pick up streets hails (only licensed "yellow" taxis are allowed to pick-up random people on streets throughout the five boroughs, but they operate almost exclusively in Manhattan), and the city's new plan to create a new fleet of street hail-able taxis that could operate in outer boroughs (as well as Manhattan) -- were both "unacceptable."

[In the morning, before Diaz spoke with reporters, livery operators and elected officials rallied on City Hall to protest the current plan, which would add 6,000 new taxis and allow many of them to pick up passengers in all five boroughs.]

Instead, Diaz offered an alternative "framework" for a new plan that might not please everyone, he said, but might lead to a compromise that would please enough people to get passed and have an impact on the industry and customers.

First, in a nod to livery operators, Diaz said he favored the "de-linking" or "de-coupling" of any new outer-borough street hailing taxis with those that operate in Manhattan. Yellow cabs would only be able to pick up passengers in Manhattan (and the airport) and outer borough cabs would only be allowed to pick up passengers in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. He added that penalties should be stiff for those in violation of these boundaries.

The other piece Diaz wanted included in any deal was financing options that could make it affordable to those who drive or own liver cabs to purchase these new medallions, which currently go for around $760,000. That number would price out most of the mom and pop livery operators who might want to buy into the new system. But Diaz said he favored the medallion system because it gives owners an opportunity to maintain wealth.

(Medallions, like homes or fast food franchises, can be sold by their owners. Diaz added that the auctioning off of 1,500 new medallions would be a great way to make money for the city. He did not say how many of those 1,500 medallions, should outer-borough-specific.)

Diaz, who was asked by the mayor's office, despite his contentious history with the Bloomberg administration over Bronx development deals (see: Armory, Kingsbridge), to broker a more palatable and passable deal on outer-borough taxi regulations, called the issue "complicated," but said he thought an agreement could be reached. The state legislature goes on hiatus in two weeks, so any kind of legislation would have to be passed by then.

In a statement, Cira Angeles, a spokeswoman for Livery Base Owners, Inc., one of the many livery cab associations, called the "delinking of borough licenses from yellow cab medallions is an important first step." But, she added, "prohibiting livery drivers from accepting both radio calls and street hails ignores the reality of a system that has served the community well and we cannot support his plan in its current form."


  1. This 5BT Plan will be the death of both the Yellows and Livery. It will lead to a total deregulation of the entire industry. Livery-Stands at major outer borough hubs are the answer. It protects both industries and provides the outer borough with the service they need. Reality check here people: Do you really think that you can rely on "Hailing" an outer borough cab on the streets of Bklyn, Queens & the Bronx if this were to go through? Don't get your hopes up, they will be cruising the areas that will bring them the greatest chances of hails....guess what? That doesn't mean the streets....it means the Big Train & Bus Hubs. There is an economic reason why you don't see Yellows in the outer boroughs....YOU CAN'T MAKE MONEY! So instead of this being a free-market system and learning from the existing model, NYC wants to increase the existing taxi fleet by 10% and add 6000 borough (looks like cabs) into the mix. Government rushing to get involved in things they have no understanding about.

    The Rich Yellow Barons couldn't have written the script any better. They will soon have to phase out their existing fleets with the new "Taxi Of Tomorrow". Hmmm, what to do with these phased out cars....I got, turn them into borough taxis and hire slave labor to fill their shifts and kill off enough existing Livery Cars to make room for them. Nice, destroy hard working people who own their own Livery Cars trying to get their piece of the American Dream with pay per shift workers. It's a sad day in this city if this goes through.

    Oh and don't be doing cart-wheels yet Oh mighty Yellow Barons.....We are all subject to the rules of Karma.....

    Good luck getting them out of Manhattan once they bring somebody in. They will be bouncing around until their shift is over. What do they have to lose? They want money just like you.

    Who are these people who need the ability to Hail a cab?
    How many are there?
    Why haven't past candidates running for Mayor used this on their running platform?

  2. This is, indeed a complicated issue. However, if the proposals offered by either side do not create jobs or advance the economy in the outer boroughs then the administration is focusing on the wrong issues. The livery industry supports and employs thousands of people. Why is the Mayor so intent on doing this restructure now? Find ways of putting more people to work. This experimental project does nothing for what people need most: jobs.


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