[UPDATE BELOW] Outer-borough taxis might have been erstwhile Mayor Bloomberg's beloved babies-on-wheels, but they don't seem to be thrilling the new ruler of City Hall half as much. Yesterday, de Blasio's administration made it clear they would be moving to stall the expansion of the new green fleet, announcing they'll be putting it on hold until they can further assess the program.
Yesterday, taxi commissioner Meera Joshi announced the administration would not be moving forward with an expected 6,000 green cab-expansion next month, citing a need to talk to drivers, passengers and other cab-ready individuals about the program. "We’re not going to commit to a certain date until we finish the process to a point that we feel comfortable,” Joshi told reporters yesterday. “This is a city with many moving parts. I am one part, one agency. And I think that decisions are made not in a vacuum.”
Back in Bloombergian 2011, the city agreed to get 18,000 green taxis on the outer-borough streets by the end of 2014. The fleet is currently 5,081 strong, but the city now says it can't commit to issuing new licenses by the end of the year, and certainly not next month. "What’s definite is that the program moves forward,” Joshi said. “Figuring out the structure of how it moves forward is what we’re going to get over the next process of engagement.”
De Blasio was a vocal opponent of outer-borough taxis back in his Public Advocate days, arguing that the cabs—which are only permitted to pick up passengers in outer boroughs and in Manhattan above East 96th and West 110th Streets—was an overreach on Bloomberg's part. De Blasio accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from "yellow taxi interests," the Post reports, with one lobbyist for a yellow cab operator agency offering $147,000 from taxi contributors.
The Mayor's office says that one of their main goals in putting outer borough cabs on hold is to "ensure that the plan fully optimizes every available opportunity to enrich service for persons who use wheelchairs"; de Blasio has planned to add a 30-cent taxi surcharge to fund wheelchair-accessible cabs. As for the boro taxis: "The expansion of this service will have far-reaching effects on many constituencies, and the importance of fully considering accessibility, making sure that every stakeholder’s voice is heard, and that all concerns have been heard and addressed is vital to the continued success of this program,” Joshi tells us in a statement.
Update 5:17 p.m.: The de Blasio administration now says they'll be selling outer borough taxi medallions late this summer. In a statement:
The City will sell additional [green taxi] permits from the second tranche of 6,000 permits authorized by the law as soon as the TLC finalizes a fully considered plan on how to make those vehicles and the overall fleet as accessible as possible, and has approval from the State on a Disabled Accessibility Plan (DAP). The DAP will be shared with the New York City Council for its review at the end of May, and is then due to the New York State Department of Transportation in mid-June for action by mid-August. Permit issuance should then begin in late summer. It is anticipated that the DAP approval process will incorporate crucial guidance on accessibility requirements for new issuances of outer borough permits.