Waiting for the Legislature

It seems like the nearly 40,000 New Yorkers who drive our livery cabs, most of them Latino workers, are not a priority in Albany.

A bill passed in June that seeks to legalize livery cab street pickups in northern Manhattan and the outer boroughs has since been waiting for a minor amendment so it can become law.

The Assembly and the Senate –currently out of session – have been either too lazy or too negligent to arrange a special session to approve the amendment (a change in the implementation timeline); or they are succumbing to the pressures of the yellow cab industry, which is throwing tantrums at the prospect of losing the exclusivity of hails in areas outside Manhattan, even though they are unable to serve them.

The proposed bill, which was introduced by the Bloomberg Administration and is the result of months of debate on how to increase cab service outside Manhattan, will authorize the sale of 1,500 new yellow cab medallions and issue 30,000 licenses for non-medallion drivers.

The law will make most players in this game better off. The sale of medallions will bring important new revenues to the city; the new licenses will give outer borough New Yorkers more transportation choices and legitimize an industry that has for too long worked in the shadows.

Most non-yellow cab drivers want this law. That’s why this week they began to collect 100,000 signatures petitioning the Governor to sign the bill into a law.

They are doing this because they know that picking up passengers – as opposed to responding to phone call requests only- will enhance their revenues and eliminate the fear of being fined for collecting people on the street, a violation that costs them up to $350.

New Yorkers don’t care if the cab they hail is yellow or black. They want to be able to hail a reliable taxi at every corner and at any time of day – just like people in Manhattan.

The legislature should complete the job and promptly approve a bill that will make almost everyone happier. And Governor Cuomo must sign it right away.

The time for debate is over; stop delaying, act correctly and approve this bill.