It’s lime-green, it shuns Manhattan, it’s … a taxi?
Officials unveiled the city’s new outer-borough cab Sunday, which Mayor Bloomberg dubbed “The Apple Green Boro Taxi.”
“For decades, the goal of bringing better taxi service to residents and visitors outside of Manhattan eluded the city,” Bloomberg said Sunday. “At long last New Yorkers in all five boroughs will have safe, comfortable, less costly and legal street-hail service.”
Taxi and Limousine Commisioner David Yassky called the green cab “pleasing to the eye, easy to see from a distance,” adding that it “blends well with the urban landscape.”
Despite opposition from many yellow cab medallion owners, the TLC approved new rules earlier this month to let the city begin issuing permits to let livery cabs legally pick up street hails outside Manhattan. Up to 6,000 cabs can begin applying for the $1,500 permits next month, which only give drivers permission to pick up fares in the outer boroughs or North of East 96th and West 110th Streets. The first set of cabs will hit streets by the end of June, and 20% of them must be wheelchair accessible under a stipulation in the new law, which was brokered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Traditional yellow cabs will retain the exclusive right to get passengers in midtown and downtown Manhattan and at area airports. Both the yellow and green cabs will calculate fares using the same metered system.
Yellow cab owners were livid with the TLC’s decision, saying it would hurt their business and lessen the value of their medallions. The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade filed a lawsuit earlier this month asking a judge to toss out the new law permitting the outer-borough cab fleet.
“The city sold the exclusive rights of street hails to medallion owners,” said Michael Woloz, a spokesman for the group. “In one fell swoop, in the bill that was passed in Albany in the dead of the night, that right was taken away from all medallion owners.”
But the TLC countered by saying only a tiny fraction of yellow cabs’ pickups were outside Manhattan, forcing New Yorkers to illegally hail a livery cab an estimated 100,000 times each day. It also promised that drivers busted trying to pick up a fare in prohibited areas would be fined hundreds of dollars and have their cars confiscated.
— Up to 18,000 permits for outer-borough cabs will be issued in three phases over the next three years.
— At least 3,600 of the outer-borough cabs have to be wheelchair accessible; the city will offer a $15,000 subsidy for drivers who get accessible cabs to help cover additional costs.
— The city hopes to raise more than $1 billion by adding 2,000 new yellow cabs. All will be wheelchair-accessible.