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Cuomo Signs Livery Cab Bill

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After weeks of negotiations and threats of a veto, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a controversial bill Wednesday that will soon allow livery cabs to pick up street hails throughout the five boroughs.

Both Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday announced they reached a deal to allow livery cabs to make street pickups in Upper Manhattan and the other four boroughs. Bloomberg applauded the agreement at a press conference Wednesday.

Under the three-year plan, the city will sell 6,000 special medallions just for livery cab street pickups -- 20 percent of those being wheelchair accessible.

Twelve-thousand more special medallions will be sold over the next two years.

The deal also allows the city to sell 2,000 new yellow cab medallions, all of which must be wheelchair-accessible.

"It's very important to me that the bill is something I'm proud of and that all New Yorkers can be proud of, and I don't believe New Yorkers want a taxi system that is not accessible," said Cuomo.

"It's fair to say the long quest for five borough taxi service will soon be a reality. And it will positively impact our city's quality of life for decades to come," said Bloomberg.

The plan is expected to raise $1 billion for the city.

While many are touting the livery cab deal as a win for all sides, the plan is drawing a mixed reaction from driver advocates.

The Taxi Workers Alliance -- which represents drivers of yellow cabs -- says while the number of new medallions is a concern, it backs the idea of livery cabs picking up street hails.

"Given the expenses that yellow cab drivers bear, it would impossible for us to remain in the outer boroughs and cruise for a prolonged period in the way that liveries can," said Bhairavi Desai of the Taxi Workers Alliance. "We do believe that workers should he able to labor without fear of their labor being illegal."

"I work the day shift, five in the morning to five in the afternoon. If I cannot make like $150 a day it's hard," said one yellow cab driver.

The New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers -- which represents livery drivers -- is raising concern about the deal's cost to its members.

"We don't believe that drivers that have been driving for 10 or 15 years that borrow today to buy a used car are gonna turn around and spend more money than what the car's worth to equip the car in order to pick up street hails," said NYS Federation of Taxi Drivers President Fernando Mateo.

"I might be out of work that's what I'm concerned about because I'm not gonna be able to spend about 20, 30,000 dollars to equip my car. I'm not gonna make that kind of money," said one livery driver.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission will be in charge of putting the plan's details in place, including how to keep livery and yellow cabs from encroaching on each other's business.

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