Hey, taxi! Brooklynites may soon get to hail metered livery cabs

Hey, taxi! Brooklynites may soon get to hail metered livery cabs
Photo by Bess Adler

Hail yes!

Brooklynites are cheering a revolutionary city initiative to put meters inside livery cabs — and allow them to make on-street pick-ups in the outer boroughs.

Presently, it is illegal for anything but a yellow medallion-bearing cab to make curbside pick-ups within the city, but the new law would extend that right to certain car service vehicles — legalizing a practice that occurs regularly in Brooklyn.

The difference is that under the proposal, passengers won’t be taken for a ride when they’re taken for a ride.

“Drivers give me different prices all the time to go to the same place,” said Jamie Garcia, who grabs cabs from the Atlantic Terminal Mall on Flatbush Avenue to go to Nostrand Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “One day, I’ll get charged $10, the next time, it’s $14.”

In our test, we were quoted several different prices for a trip from the mall to Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO. One driver said it would be $10, another $12, and two said $15 — though most were willing to haggle.

The operator inside the DMD Car Service taxi stand, stationed outside of the mall on Fort Greene Place, said a trip to DUMBO would cost $12, but a DMD driver whom we hailed said the fare was $15.

Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky says he wants to stop these unfair fares.

“We need to end these under-the-table rate negotiations so people stop getting ripped off,” Yassky told Community Board 13 last Wednesday.

The city has not confirmed if the meter rates would be the same as yellow taxis, which is $2.50 plus 40 cents for every 1/5 of a mile. Liveries that choose to register for a meter and on-street pick-up license would also be equipped with credit card readers and navigation system locators — just like yellow taxis.

Many say the new rules would make them feel more comfortable about hailing the so-called “black cars.”

“It would be great to regulate them so you’d know exactly what price you’re going to get,” said Fort Greene resident Marie Schumacher. “I would take those cabs more if they had meters.”

Yellow cabbies are among the opponents to the plan.

“The mayor is proposing a second tier taxi market that will make second-class citizens of taxi drivers,” Bhairavi Desai, spokesman of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance said in a statement.

But the city maintains that the mandatory navigation system in hailed livery cabs would allow the Taxi and Limousine Commission to crack down on Manhattan pick-ups, which would still be banned.

Agency spokesman Allan Fromberg added that revenue generated from the license fees paid by hailed liveries would fund increased enforcement of illegal pick-ups.