Despite uncertain future, city hails apple green outer-borough taxis
Outer-borough streets are going green — Big Apple green.
More than 1,000 green outer-borough taxis are on city streets, officials announced Tuesday.
“There’s a hot color for every season,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said of the burgeoning fleet in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Those taxis have provided nearly 300,000 trips totaling some 885,00 miles since they first hit streets in August, officials said.
Part of the mayor’s 2011 Boro Taxi plan, the cars are meant to address transportation inequalities in the outer boroughs.
“For too long, four and a half out of our five boroughs did not have taxi service,” the mayor said.
The official green taxis can accept street hails above West 110th Street and north of East 96th Street in Manhattan, and anywhere in Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and Queens, except for airports.
Only around 5 percent of all yellow taxi pickups are in those zones, the mayor said.
“We no longer have to hear the tale of two cities, one with exclusive privileges in the central district,” said Cira Angeles of the Livery Base Owners Association.
Angeles said green cab drivers don’t have to fear hefty fines for serving outer-borough communities. Historically, livery cabs were the only taxi transportation in those areas, but they can’t legally take street hails.
“It was virtually impossible to legally hail a cab in neighborhoods that a vast majority of New Yorkers call home,” the mayor said.
Pointing to the rising stock of taxi medallions, Bloomberg said the taxis are a boon to green and yellow cab drivers, in addition to their customers.
This year, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has sold all 6,000 licenses for the green taxis, all of which will be on the road by March.
Though Bloomberg hailed the outer-borough taxi plan as a “win-win-win,” the fleet’s future remains uncertain in the next administration.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has expressed vague opposition to the plan, but Bloomberg said he doesn’t know what that means for the green cabs.
“I can only tell you what we’ve done,” the mayor said. “This has been been a phenomenally successful program. It took a lot to get here.”
After discussing the plan’s merits, the mayor hopped in a green taxi.
“The last time I drove a car was Thanksgiving of ’01,” he said, before speeding off to his next appointment.
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