De Blasio promises a taxi policy for the people, industry money or no
The yellow taxi industry has given more than $350,000 to Bill de Blasio's mayoral campaign, making it one of his biggest donors, but that won't impact his taxi policy at all, he says.
On Sunday afternoon in Breezy Point, I asked de Blasio to explain how Mayor Michael Bloomberg's borough taxi program—which brings legal street-hail taxi service to the outer boroughs and Upper Manhattan, where yellow taxi service is scarce—will undermine the existing structure of the industry, as he suggested it would last week on the "Brian Lehrer Show."
"Simply that we need to strike a balance," said de Blasio. "I'm an outer borough resident. I've depended on car services. In my experience, and I've talked to lots of residents all over the city, they've been very effective and very consistent. If you're in the middle of Manhattan and you're at an airport, yellow cabs are available obviously on a very consistent basis. We just need to make sure that the pieces that are working continue to work well. And then we want to add on top of that the ability of people to hail cars on the streets in the outer boroughs."
De Blasio went on to say he thinks street hail service in the outer boroughs is "the right goal," just that some of the Bloomberg policy needs to be reworked.
He didn't get more specific than that. But de Blasio's argument, generally, seemed to be in favor of maintaining the status quo, which the yellow cab industry also prefers.
The borough taxi law allows livery car drivers to apply for permits that enable them to legally pick up street hails, while also continuing to offer pre-arranged service via their livery bases.
The law is so contentious and has been mired in so much litigation because the people who control the city's million-dollar yellow taxi medallions argue that street hails are their exclusive province and the borough taxi law undermines their business model.
Borough taxi supporters—many of them livery car base owners, livery car drivers, and taxi drivers—counter that if yellow taxis serviced upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs, there wouldn't be any need for borough taxis to begin with.
De Blasio has received a lot of money from those medallion owners, and today, Newsday's Emily Ngo asked him what impact, if any, that would have on his taxi policies once he becomes mayor.
"Well, it doesn't," he said. "Because in the end, I have been blessed to receive support from lots of different people, but I'm still gonna make up my mind according to what's in the best interests of the people in general, the public of New York City."
"And, the fact is that on the question of transportation, there's lots of, I hate to use a pun here, but there's lots of moving parts, you know?" he went on. "We've got to be very aware of the fact that to keep this city moving, there's a lot of different pieces of that industry, and they all have to succeed for the whole system to work for everyone. And I'm committed to doing that. And I'll call them like I see them."
This item was updated to reflect more recent fund-raising numbers.