Cuomo launches new plan to get more taxis in outer boroughs
It's about to get a lot easier to hail a cab outside of Manhattan.
Capping months of legislative wrangling, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a deal Tuesday night that would permit some livery drivers to legally accept street hails in the outer boroughs. The law also will add 2,000 new handicap-accessible yellow cabs in Manhattan, adding an estimated $1 billion to the city's coffers.
"The cab service to the outer boroughs is truly difficult," Cuomo said, noting that it has been a problem that "defied solution" for decades.
Under a three-year plan - hailed as an "extraordinary achievement" by advocates for the disabled - up to 6,000 livery licenses at $1,500 each will be sold each year; 20% of them will have to be wheelchair-accessible. The city will offer a $15,000 incentive to drivers whose liveries accommodate wheelchairs, since such accommodations are costly to buy and insure.
"It's a huge victory for all New Yorkers who have ever sought to hail a cab outside of Manhattan and in northern Manhattan," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday night. "The new law will make getting around town easier, safer and less costly for millions of New Yorkers."
Fernando Mateo of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, which represents yellow cabs and livery drivers, said although Cuomo's plan is better than the one originally proposed by Bloomberg in January, he doesn't think it will work.
"I don't foresee drivers converting their old Lincoln town cars into street-hail vehicles," he told amNewYork after Cuomo's announcement. "The cost is very expensive.
"We believe most drivers will remain working livery service, the way they have been doing for 40 years," Mateo added.
Follow reporter Marc Beja on Twitter: @marc_beja