It will soon be easier to flag down a ride in the outer boroughs.
The New York State Court of Appeals has upheld a state law allowing livery service vehicles to pick up street hails in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and Upper Manhattan.
“With this decision, we can finally bring safe, reliable taxi service to the four and a half boroughs that don’t currently have it,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement announcing the court’s decision on June 6.
In the same ruling, the court also expanded taxi service to the disabled by authorizing the sale of 2,000 additional medallions for wheelchair-accessible yellow taxicabs.
The New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, said in its unanimous decision that the Senate and Assembly did not violate the state’s constitution by enacting the HAIL Act.
The law creates a program allowing the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to issue street hail licenses to livery vehicles everywhere in the city except at the two airports and within Manhattan’s central business district, marked by East 96th Street and West 110th Street.
The decision is a relief to Queens residents who have had to depend on illegal, off-the-street pick-ups.
These rides, unlike yellow cabs, lack meters and other guarantees that come with a street hail license.
“I think a lot of people tend to avoid the [livery cars] just because they have this perception that it’s going to be a lot more expensive,” said Austeja Makoveckaite of Astoria. “Some people are afraid [for] security reasons.”
The new license program allows livery vehicles to answer street hails and prearranged pick-ups in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs, excluding the airports.
Passengers will be able to distinguish between legal and illegal street hail vehicles by their color.
All TLC licensees will be required to paint their cars bright green, said the group’s spokesperson. They must also install a GPS unit, credit card machine, taxi meter and roof light. The rate will be the same as yellow taxis’.
The TLC is currently reviewing applications for the licenses. The green cabs are expected to hit the streets this summer.
-With additional reporting by Rosa Kim
Updated Wednesday, June 12