After much political wrangling, a move to bypass the City Council and some arm-twisting by the Governor, Andrew Cuomo has signed the bill that will allow livery cabs to accept street hails. Billed as a measure that will improve Outer Borough taxi service, the new plan could help the city realize as much as $1 billion in increased revenue and will improve accessibility options as well.
Details are still emerging from Albany, but right now, we know that what the contours of the final compromise will be. The new bill approves the issuance of 2000 new yellow cab medallions, all of which much be wheelchair-accessible and 18,000 livery street-hail permits. Of those, 3600 will be for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. These street-hail permits will sell initially for $1500 each, and then purchasers can sell them for market value. To improve accessibility — a major sticking point for the Governor — the city will spend $54 million on taxi subsidies and must submit to Albany a long-term plan for accessibility in order to release 1600 of the new 2000 yellow cab medallions.
I’ll have more as this story develops, but it seems that, at the last minute, New Yorkers finally gained something related to transportation from the governor. Over the next three years, as these 18000 medallions are phased in, no longer will residents in cab-starved neighborhoods have to search for street transportation in vain. This measure will change the way we get around.