Stand and deliver: City to install cab service at Kings Plaza

The Brooklyn Paper
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The city is brokering a deal that would bring legal livery cab curb service to the Kings Plaza Mall for the first time, pushing aside the illegal activities that proliferate at Brooklyn’s biggest shopping Mecca.

Presently, the only legitimate way to get a livery cab to pick you up at Kings Plaza is to call in advance and meet the car on the street. But, over the years, roving car service drivers have found easy fares at places like Kings Plaza, located at Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue, with high foot traffic and people in need of a ride. At times, the practice has led to bunches of car service drivers swarming on potential customers as they exit such locations.

The city-sanctioned livery stand would put an end to that by licensing space on the street to one car service operator, which will place an on-site dispatcher to assign passengers to cars and give them a receipt. Livery services not participating in the program wouldn’t be allowed to drop off or pick-up pre-arranged passengers at the stand, but will be allowed to do so at other areas of the mall

The cost of the ride would either be preset or agreed upon in advance between the dispatcher and the passenger.

The goal, said Department of Transportation Commissioner David Yassky, is to move the practice of illegally picking up passengers from “an underground version, to …a licit one.”

Car service companies “don’t come with the same safety and customer service expectations” as yellow cabs — but with city oversight, they will, he predicted.

The city settled on Kings Plaza as a test location based on a study it conducted of illegal “street hails” made in and around the vicinity of the mall — 19.4 hails per hour, over a seven hour period. Still, that figure is dwarfed by inspectors’ observations at Mermaid and Stillwell avenues, where 65.1 hails were made per hour, over a 21 hour period.

It did not say which other Brooklyn locations would be considered in the future.

The service would be consistent with the one set up last year at the Ikea furniture emporium in Red Hook, another part of Brooklyn.

At press time, Vornado Realty Trust, the company that manages the mall, did not return a call for comment on the service.

A city-overseen taxi stand launched Sept. 7 in Staten Island at the St. George Ferry Terminal, and a stand in Queens, a neighboring borough, is nearing completion.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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