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Cab Drivers Still Divided Over Five-Borough Taxi Plan

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TWC News: Cab Drivers Still Divided Over Five-Borough Taxi Plan
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Overshadowed by the passage of the same-sex marriage bill in Albany, the mayor's new taxi plan was also approved by the State Senate on their final night of session. NY1's CeFaan Kim filed the following report.

Starting in January, tens of thousands of livery cab drivers can legally accept street hails in Upper Manhattan, and the other four boroughs. The legislation, passed by the State Senate late Friday night, authorizes up to 30,000 permits for livery drivers, which will cost $1,500 each.

Livery drivers in Astoria, Queens said it is long overdue.

"Yeah it's good for us," said one driver.

"It could be great because, you know, we need to support our families too," said another.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced his new taxi plan measure a week ago and pushed the State Senate to give the green light to the bill passed by the State Assembly on Tuesday.

In a statement the mayor says "[It] will generate hundreds of millions in revenue for the City over the next several years, as well as much-needed new revenue for the [Metropolitan Transportation Authority]."

While livery drivers hailed the plan, some yellow cab drivers were fuming, saying it will cut into their customer base and hurt their bottom line.

The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto the bill, but the Taxi Workers Alliance came on board after concessions were made to enforce the new rules and protect yellow cabs.

Supporters argued yellow cabs will still have the exclusive right to the places where they do nearly 98-percent of their business -- central and lower Manhattan and the airports.

However, some yellow cab drivers disagreed.

"I go to Brooklyn everyday, I go to Bronx all the time, I go to Queens. I go everywhere," said one driver.

"They're going to put us out of business, and they're going to put themselves out of business too," said another. "Now they're going to have to answer to the Taxi and Limousine Commission. They're going to be going through inspections, just like cabs are."

Supporters said the bill is meant to increase service for long-neglected residents, as 1,500 more yellow cabs will also be added. Yet some yellow cab drivers said that will dilute the value of their medallions.

The measure now heads to the governor, who has yet to take a position on it.

In the meantime, Bloomberg said in the coming months he will work to try to address concerns of opponents.

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