Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bronx pols rejoice after new livery bill is signed

The illegal, yet mostly ignored, practice of hailing livery cabs on the street has finally been legalized, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that will increase outer borough service and also bring more handicapped-accessible taxis to the city.

It also calls for the city to sell 2,000 yellow cab medallions, which is expected to generate more $1 billion in new revenue, the New York Daily News reports:
The deal requires that the first 20% of 6,000 new street-hail livery licenses be made available in the first year to drivers with wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Another 6,000 licenses will be made available in each of the next two years, with determinations to be made about the percentages that will be assigned to drivers with wheelchair-accessible rides.
In addition, all 2,000 new yellow cab medallions must be for wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Cuomo has ready to veto the bill if he did not get promises from the state Legislature that they would amend it to increase service to the physically disabled.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) will be authorized to issue up to 18,000 of these new licenses (livery street hails) and will be required to provide grants of up to $15,000 to retrofit vehicles to accommodate the disabled or to purchase accessible vehicles.

"By working together and finding common ground, I am pleased that we have been able to reach a deal that will extend taxi and livery service to the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan, while ensuring full access for the disabled," Cuomo said. "The bill as originally passed failed to address the needs of individuals with disabilities and did not provide any incentive for the livery industry to ensure disabled New Yorkers had full access to the taxicab system."

For Bronx leaders, this bill was long overdue.

“I am pleased that after months of negotiations over the details of this legislation, an agreement has been reached that will improve the quality of life of my constituents in the Northwest Bronx and will provide livery cab drivers, so many of whom live in the 33rd Senate District, with the much-needed ability to pick up legal street hails,” said state Senator Gustavo Rivera. “This plan is a victory for Bronxites and for all New Yorkers in the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan. I would like to congratulate the livery cab drivers for their relentless advocacy that played a critical role in ensuring that this legislation was passed and that it will be signed into law as well as Governor Cuomo for negotiating an agreement that all New Yorkers should consider a victory.”

“I am pleased that, following months of negotiation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature have reached an agreement on a plan that will increase outer borough livery service in our City while also bringing more handicapped-accessible taxis to our City’s streets," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said.

“This plan will raise much-needed new revenue for our City through the sale of new yellow taxi medallions while also bringing livery cab drivers out of the shadows, offering them considerable legal protection," Diaz added. "At the same time, Bronxites and residents in all of the outer boroughs will have the ability to hail a legal livery cab, while our disabled community will see their travel options increase significantly.

“This plan is a victory for commuters, and I congratulate both Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature for making it a reality. I also thank Mayor Bloomberg and his administration for their efforts on this important issue."

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