Going Green

After some confusion, the de Blasio administration appears ready to authorize an expansion of street-hail livery cab service in the outer boroughs. That’s good news for those who have embraced the green cabs that are becoming a familiar sight in neighborhoods that rarely saw yellow cabs in the past.

As public advocate, Bill de Blasio was an outspoken critic of the Bloomberg administration’s initiative to allow street-hail livery cabs in underserved communities. Yellow-cab owners appreciated Mr. de Blasio’s stand in the most tangible way possible: The industry contributed more than $300,000 to the de Blasio mayoral campaign.

So it was not entirely surprising when the mayor’s new taxi commissioner, Meera Joshi, told the City Council last week that a proposed expansion of the green-cab fleet would be delayed while the administration engaged in additional “stakeholder engagement.” That piece of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo was interpreted to mean: “We want to talk to our friends in the yellow-cab industry, which was so generous to us during the campaign.”

Twenty-four hours later, however, City Hall announced that it would, in fact, issue more permits for green cabs by the end of summer. The law that created the green-cab service would allow up to 6,000 additional permits effective on June 12. Currently, there are more than 5,000 green cabs patrolling the city’s streets.

The green cabs are a smashing success, and the de Blasio administration should be doing everything it can to encourage an industry that provides a valuable service to New Yorkers who live or work in places other than Manhattan. Green cabs represent sound populist policy—the sort of policy that ought to warm Mayor de Blasio’s progressive heart.

If Mr. de Blasio does expedite additional permits for green cabs, his friends in the yellow-cab industry may feel betrayed. No amount of “stakeholder engagement” is likely to assuage them.

But for New Yorkers who would like to hail a cab on the streets of Carroll Gardens, Riverdale, Astoria and all the other neighborhoods that rarely see a flash of yellow, the green-cab expansion is a welcome victory over special interests.

Mr. de Blasio’s apparent change of heart is welcome. 

It turns out that Michael Bloomberg may have had a few good ideas after all, eh?