A good deal for New Yorkers

New York City will finally see more hailing taxis outside of Manhattan in 2012, thanks to a deal struck Tuesday between Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg.

The pact, which the Governor signed into law yesterday, is a great deal all around: it gives New Yorkers more reliable transportation options in areas severely underserved by yellow cabs; helps regulate illegal hailings; gives thousands of livery drivers –most of them Latinos with families-the opportunity to expand their business and increase their family income; and opens the door to an additional $1 billion in much-needed revenue for the City through the sale of new medallions.

The deal also brings 2,000 disabled-friendly cabs to city streets –something this community has advocated for many years.

As most big policy changes, the path to achieve this law was not easy.

Since Mayor Bloomberg announced in January his intention to expand street taxi pick-ups, several proposals were discussed, many protests held, and probably millions of dollars went spent on lobbying.

Amid much debate, the Mayor was able in June to push a bill through the state legislature and had it signed by both chambers on the last day of the session. But after the approval, opposition from large livery companies and the yellow cab industry sought to persuade the legislature to nullify the vote, or convince the Governor to veto it. A few weeks before the end of the 2011 legislative session, the Senate and the Assembly sent a final bill to the Governor. Until this week, it was unclear whether the Governor would sign it.

It is satisfying to see that Governor Cuomo heeded the interests of working New Yorkers and signed this bill, despite growing pressure to veto. We hope to witness a similar show of commitment from Albany in 2012 on other pressing issues.