Just a few days ago, it seemed as though Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg might be headed for a first-class political row. The mayor was pushing for state approval of a plan to allow livery cabs to pick up street hails in the four outer boroughs plus Manhattan north of Central Park. But the governor was sending signals that he might not sign such a measure, saying that support for the plan was “dissipating.”
Fortunately, the mayor and governor now appear to be on the same page. Mr. Cuomo said the other day that he wants to get this deal done. And no wonder: the mayor estimates that expanding street-hail service could bring in $1 billion through the sale of new medallions. In an interview with WOR Radio, Mr. Cuomo said, “When you can find revenue without raising taxes, grab it.”
That’s exactly right. We’ve argued on this page many times that government does have a revenue problem, but solving that problem requires creativity, not knee-jerk tax hikes. Mr. Cuomo clearly agrees.
What’s more, Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal has justice on its side. The mayor correctly notes that conventional cab service hardly exists outside of midtown and downtown Manhattan. He described this gap in service as an “outrage.” Allowing 30,000 livery cabs to pick up street hails will make it easier for millions of New Yorkers to get where they need to go.
The yellow cab industry opposes the plan, and it is not without power. But its concerns cannot stand in the way of this eminently sensible idea. The mayor noted that a billion dollars will allow the city to hire lots of cops and teachers. That’s a good selling point, but hopefully the city has additional plans for this surge in revenue, plans that will lead to private-sector confidence and investment in the city.
As of this writing, the deal is not done, although the major players seem to be in agreement. With any luck, Mr. Cuomo will put his name on the bill before long, and the city will begin reaping the benefits.