I went up to the corner of 161st Street and the Grand Concourse this morning, next to the Bronx County Courthouse, and tried to catch a ride back to the Uptown Radio Studios in Manhattan.
IC: “This is a really busy intersection…”
OC: “…I’m going to see how long it takes me to hail a yellow cab here.” (:06)
I’ll spare you the 15 minutes I waited without seeing any yellow cabs.
So I tried a new approach: looking for a livery car.
Livery cars aren’t as easy to pick out. They’re not yellow. They don’t have lights on top. But they’re all over the Bronx.
SOUND: Door opening
IC: “Hi. Can you take me to Columbia University?…”
OC: “…Where? Columbia University. Okay.” (:06)
It took less than a minute, and I was on my way to my destination.
But the problem is, what just happened was illegal. Under the old regulations, livery cars can’t stop for street hails—only yellow cabs can.
But yellow cabs tend not to leave Manhattan. David Yassky, chairman of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, says that’s created a vacuum.
“This vacuum has been filled by a huge underground market.” (:04)
NAR: That’s what Yassky said yesterday during the commission’s hearing.
The new rules would allow the city to sell up to 6,000 new licenses, starting in June. The licenses would let livery car drivers take street hails everywhere in the city, except for most of Manhattan.
The commission voted 7 to 2 to approve the new rules.
The livery car industry is delighted. The yellow taxi industry is angry. Some drivers have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for their medallions—their own licenses that let them pick up street hails in all five boroughs.
The new livery car licenses will cost just $1,500. Some medallion owners told the commission that they were worried their investments would lose value.
IC: “I borrowed from everyone I knew to purchase my medallion…”
OC: “…I didn’t grow up easy.” (:20)
That’s 74-year-old Vincent Sapone, who said he started driving a yellow cab back in 1964.
Sapone used to work in the Bronx and in Harlem, but he said livery cars pushed him out. And he blames the city for letting it happen.
IC: “The day came when the taxi stand was full with liveries…”
OC: “…You get into fights, and they push you out to Manhattan.” (:20)
NAR: A coalition of medallion owners has sued to stop the city’s rules from going into effect.
And livery car owners face other hurdles before they can start picking up street hails. Twenty percent of the new licenses must go to handicapped-accessible vehicles.
While New Yorkers wait for resolution, livery cars will keep taking street hails in the Bronx, illegally. Outside the courthouse this morning, Ralph William Boone said he thinks the new rules make sense.
IC: “It seems to me if you’re allowing the livery cabs…”
OC: “…Because the yellow cabs aren’t here in the first place.” (:08)
If the new rules pass muster with the courts, street-hail livery cabs will get their own roof lights and fare meters, just like taxis. And they’ll be painted a uniform color, though the TLC hasn’t decided which.
The only thing that’s for sure is that it won’t be yellow.