The New York City Assembly recently “hailed” legislation that may prove “golden” for livery cabs.
The bill — passed on January 23 and carried by Assemblymember Carl Heastie from the Bronx — will allow the city to issue 18,000 hail accessible inter-borough licenses (HAIL), which permit livery cab drivers to pick up pedestrians. Twenty percent of the licenses will go to accessible vehicles, in order to offer more transportation options to citizens with disabilities. The legislation has already been agreed upon with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state.
“For too long, persistent transportation problems within New York City have gone unanswered, leading to a nearly nonexistent taxi presence outside of Manhattan’s Central Business District and a troubling lack of vehicles for people with disabilities,” said Assemblymember Francisco Moya, who co-sponsored the bill. “This new plan will afford New Yorkers in underserved areas greater access to taxicab service in and around the city. This will also lead to more revenue for the city of New York, helping protect vital programs for seniors and hardworking families.”
Under the legislation, the city will issue the new licenses over the next three years. New York will also be authorized to issue as many as 450 new base permits, increasing the number of taxi dispatching services and generating $1.3 million in revenue.
In addition, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) will issue 2,000 new taxicab licenses for vehicles that are accessible to people with disabilities. As part of the agreement, TLC will also be required to provide grants of up to $15,000 to retrofit HAIL vehicles to accommodate people with disabilities and establish a program to support the introduction of handicapped-accessible vehicles into the HAIL vehicle fleet.
Despite the vast support the bill reportedly received in the Assembly, Fernando Mateo, the founder and spokesperson for the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, is unsure if the increase in HAIL’s will have a positive effect.
“This is a bill that the governor has signed, and we expected some amendments to be made by the Assembly and Senate,” Mateo said. “We are no longer going to oppose what has been done. Instead we will assist those drivers who want to participate in the program. We believe the program has a lot of pluses and minuses. In the last 80 years, there have been only 13,400 yellow medallions issued, so it is questionable in my mind whether they can sell even near the 18,000 licenses they will issue. The math doesn’t add up, and it doesn’t make much sense. But let’s see what will happen.”