A collation that included City Council members, yellow cab taxi drivers and the president of Livery Base Owners gathered on the steps of City Hall this afternoon to ask the State Senate to pass a bill that allows livery cab drivers to make pick-ups in the outer boroughs and the northern most areas of Manhattan.
Yesterday the bill passed in the Assembly, but not without fanfare as protesters gathered in Albany with hope of blocking its progression.
The affair in favor of the bill today was not large considering the 100 driver-strong protest against the bill that took place Monday in the same location, but the day was deemed historic by multiple people who took the podium and the message was consistent: pass the bill.
“We are all in favor of yellow cabs and yellow cab owners making money, but they are not serving and haven’t for many, many, many decades served my district,” said Council Member Oliver Koppell, who hails from the north Bronx.
Koppell and Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents areas of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, focused on equal rights for their neighborhoods which they said do not see yellow cabs. But Executive Director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai turned attention to the controversy.
“We as an industry: livery, taxi and and black car, we as a massive industry over 100,000 workers we collectively serve close to a million people every single day,” she said. “That is something we should be proud of, and is something we should promote not something we should cut each others’ heads off over.”
The sentiment at the conference was that opposition is not coming from yellow cab drivers, but from the cabs’ owners. Two yellow cab drivers, one former and one current, both wearing NYTWA t-shirts, told us after the conference that consternation arising from this issue is derived from the garage and fleet owners. Yellow cab driver Victor Salazar started his career in the mid-80s driving livery cabs and said the yellow taxi drivers have been “systematically oppressed by the landlords of the industry.”
“All drivers support the bill because it makes sense, because it opens a new door for the industry to coexist,” yellow cab driver Victor Salazar said. “The plan is constructed in a way that serves the true size of the industry: the liveries as well as the yellows, marking an economical, feasible and understanding path for the yellow industry as well as the permits for the livery a similar job in the outer boroughs.”
Pedro Heredia, the president of Livery Base Owners, said after the press conference that if the bill passes, livery cabs that buy permits to pick up street hailers will operate similarly to yellow cabs with meters, but “they are not going to be painted yellow.”