From Red to Green: Governor and Mayor Finally Reach Taxi Compromise, But What Took So Long?

bloomberg yahoo taxi   mah1 From Red to Green: Governor and Mayor Finally Reach Taxi Compromise, But What Took So Long?

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After six months of hard negotiations between Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and the Legislature,  a deal was finally struck yesterday to bring more taxicabs to the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan.

The sale of the new medallion yellow cabs will inject a billion dollars into the city’s coffers. In addition, with 24,000 new cabs (eventually), it will now be possible to hail one in the outer boroughs. Sounds like a brilliant idea, so why were we stuck on the corner, trying to hail a deal for six months?

Well it seems those pesky ‘needs of the disabled’ cropped up… again. There was also the issue of disgruntled current taxi drivers, who now face competition with 18,000 “hailing” livery cabs.

Mayor Bloomberg’s original bill stipulated that only 500-plus of the 2,000 new yellow cabs, and none of the new “hailing” livery cabs, would be accessible. This was a major issue with Governor Cuomo, and he dug his feet in. “It’s really important to me that it’s accessible to the disabled,” he told reporters, after a behind closed doors meeting just last week. “

A compromise was then reached only after Governor Cuomo threatened to veto the bill. Now all of the new 2,000 yellow medallion cabs and 20 percent of all liveries will be accessible.

“It will make an enormous improvement in the getting of service for people with disabilities that need to have the ability to get around,” Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday. Quite a contrast to what he said in October, that it’s “dangerous” for a disabled person to get a taxi.

“And I think, in all fairness, it is a testament to Matt Sapolin, former late Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities,” said the Mayor, who—since he was so eager to get the bill passed without accessibility —one could be forgiven for thinking was making the best out of a bad situation.

The TLC are now required to put forth a Disabled Accessibility Plan, which will ensure improved accessibility of all the new taxicabs. It could be good practice for them, as the future of the inaccessible, Taxi of Tomorrow, lies in the balance.

sduffy@observer.com