The Green Cab Invasion: Court Upholds Outer Borough Hail Plan


It’s two o’clock in the morning on a Saturday night in Astoria. You’ve just left the bar with your friends and, because of the way the world works, the N/R/Q trains are running every hour and you just missed it. You try to hail a cab back to East Williamsburg, but to no avail, since, you know, you’re in Queens, where cabs are an endangered species. This is the plight of thousands every night in the outer boroughs and, as of yesterday, it will end very soon.

The Five Borough Taxi Plan is Mayor Bloomberg’s last great public transportation effort before he leaves office. It would put 18,000 new livery cabs on the streets of uptown and the outer boroughs. These cabs would be green, a color meant to designate “Not From Midtown.”

A year ago, the New York State Supreme Court sided with cab industry groups and stopped the effort, issuing a plaintiff request to temporarily enjoin the proposal. The court argued that it was unconstitutional because, normally, the City Council has to pass public transportation plans. But, with a lingering, billion-dollar deficit, Bloomberg was unable to garner enough votes. So, in classic Bloomberg fashion, the mayor went around the council to Governor Cuomo.

That all changed yesterday. After an appeal by the mayor’s office, the Supreme Court has upheld the Five Borough Taxi plan. So it begins.

Since livery cabs are limited to request pick-ups, the city would sell 8,000 hail permits every year for three years; once that happens, cabs above East 96th Street and West 110th Street, as well as those living in the outer boroughs, will be on the street. Plus, the city will sell another batch of taxi medallions, adding 2,000 new yellow cabs to the fleet and raising millions in revenue. In effect, the plan will drastically change how cabs maneuver in New York City.

In reaction to the decision, hizzoner was in high spirits and added the news that Citi Bike–the Five Borough Taxi Plan’s young, bicycle-bound brother–has seen 100,000 rides in 10 days. “Put it all together, so far this is a phenomenal week,” he said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do tomorrow. The city certainly is going in the right direction.”

We sure hope so, Mikey.