Does the TLC regulate fares in black cars?
The Taxi and Limousine Commission calls these cars (they come in other colors, too) For Hire Vehicles.
The TLC tells Ask Gothamist that they regulate For Hire Vehicles, but don't set the fares. In an email, they tell us:
For-Hire Vehicles operating in New York are also the responsibility of the Commission. These are the limousines, the 'black cars' that mainly service corporate accounts and liveries or community based car services. The for-hire vehicle, according to the City's Administrative Code, pick up passengers only by pre-arranged ride. TLC's licensing and regulation over the car service industry are aimed to ensure passenger safety - to assure rides in safe, properly insured and identifiable vehicles.
Because of the strict, structured financial path that yellow cab industry follows, the rate of fare is set by the TLC. Because the FHV's are not as regulated as the medallion taxis and because there is a need for community based car service where 'yellow' taxis might not be as available, the FHV rate of fare is not set. It is however to be filed with our offices whenever they change. You should also note that the rate of fare for FHV's while it may be hire, is subject to market conditions like any other competitive industry.
Which means that, actually, those cabs shouldn't be out prowling for passengers; those are intended to be a pre-arranged kind of thing.
But, we understand, we also live in The Land of No Yellow Cabs. It's late, you're a little drunk, you need to get home. Or, you're running late and there's a chance you'll miss your flight if you don't get to the airport right now. It seems easy enough; you hop in and you negotiate a fare with the driver in advance. We'd just urge caution. Make sure the cab you're getting in is licensed; anyone could drive around in a Town Car on the pretense of being a cab.