Dual-use livery cars won’t work

A bill backed by Mayor Michael Boomberg to allow a number of livery cars to pick up street hails in the outer boroughs was passed by state lawmakers, and now it only needs Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature to become law.

Advocates of the bill say it will make it much easier for      people in Brooklyn and Queens to get around. Below, an advocate for taxi medallion owners and one for livery car owners — two usually opposing teams — explain why they say the bill is a bad idea.

If it failed in Manhattan, why try the outer boroughs?
In his State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he would seek to bring street-hail service to outer-borough residents. While we support the mayor’s goal, the resulting bill soon to be before Gov. Andrew Cuomo is flawed and should be vetoed.

Currently, livery cars illegally provide street-hail services. So, while there is a clear need for a solution, Mayor Bloomberg’s misguided plan, mandating “dual-use” cars, will result in unreliable service.

Why? Because dual-use vehicles, with drivers able to both legally street hail and receive calls for pick-ups, have historically resulted in poor — and sometimes discriminatory — use for both street-hail and car-service customers.

When dual-use was implemented in Manhattan in the ’70s, it provided cover for drivers to refuse to pick up passengers based on race, age or disability, using the excuse of having “just” received a pick-up call. On the flip side, drivers often picked up a street-hailer for the immediate fare, leaving the car-service customer stranded.

As a result, dual-use was discontinued in the ’80s. Dual-use doesn’t work in cities like San Francisco either, where conservative estimates point to the fact that at least 25 percent of car service clients  are left stranded by no-show cars.

Adding insult to injury, the legislation completely disregards wheelchair-users by not requiring any cars to be wheelchair-accessible.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We should create two single-use transportation systems, similar to those which function so well in Manhattan. Two systems — one for street hails and one for arranged pick-ups -— would best ensure reliable and fair service for all consumers. Therefore, we urge the governor to veto the current bill.

– Robert Hewling is president of the NYC Independent Livery Owners Corp and Darlyn Sanchez is president of the United As One TLC Base Owners Association.
Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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