NY Courts Back Livery Cab Street Pickups, E-Hail Pilot

June 6, 2013 Updated: June 6, 2013

NEW YORK—In a double victory for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, two courts ruled in favor of the city administration on June 6.

The first ruling by the state’s highest court upheld the law allowing New York City livery cab drivers to pick up street hails in the city’s four outer boroughs and northern Manhattan. The second ruling by the Appellate Division’s First Department lifted a temporary restraining order from e-hail, a pilot program that would allow New Yorkers to hail yellow taxis using their smartphones.

The yellow taxi industry and taxi lending agencies claimed that a 2012 law backed by Mayor Bloomberg that would allow livery cabs to pick up street hails was unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals in Albany rejected these claims in a 22-page opinion.

“For the first time in modern memory, the other four boroughs of NYC will have taxi service. There has not been the kind of outcry there should have been,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

The claims from the plaintiffs were brought to the court in three separate cases by plaintiffs in the the yellow taxicab industry, trade associations, credit unions that lend money to finance medallion purchases, and City Council Member Lewis A. Fidler.

In a separate ruling a state court lifted an injunction today that held up the city’s efforts to launch a pilot e-hail program that would allow New Yorkers to hail cabs with their smartphones.

“Those industries who have tried to use the courts to stop progress have almost never succeeded,” said Bloomberg referring to the livery cab industry.

The livery cab industry asked the court to issue an temporary restraining order on the e-hail pilot program because it believed that the new technology would challenge its entire business model. In New York City, yellow taxis are restricted to street hails, while livery cabs are restricted to pre-arranged service. The livery cab industry claimed that by using their smartphones New Yorkers would be pre-arranging service. The city argued that they would merely be using a different method to hail a cab.

A judge last June barred the Taxi and Limousine Commission from proceeding with plans for the city to sell 18,000 of a new kind of permit that lets livery cabs pick up passengers who hail them, but excluding Manhattan below 96th Street and the two airports in Queens.

The ruling will also allow the city to move forward to sell 2,000 new yellow taxi medallions. The new medallions will be issued specifically for wheelchair accessible taxis. The city administration expects to make $1 billion in the sale of the new medallions over the next few years.

Epoch Times staff member Kristen Meriwether and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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