City council tackles taxi cab issue

April 27, 2011 3:18:51 PM PDT
For New Yorkers who don't live in Manhattan, allowing livery drivers to legally pick up passengers who hail them could be a good idea.

Most yellow cabs, 97% of them, drive only in Manhattan.

But the idea isn't going down well with drivers.

Now the city council is involved.

In 10 years of city living, Fidel Amos has known the frustration of being refused a cab ride to the outer boroughs.

"If they take that position as a taxi driver, you sign up to do the job, you should do it," Amos said.

But, taxi driver Laz Lopez says sometimes he feels the need to refuse a fare.

"This is our job, but this is not like an MTA bus where there's a 100 people on the bus. It's just me and the guy who pulls out a gun, perhaps. There's such a thing as instinct. If someone's shady, why can't I just say no? People get robbed left and right," Lopez said.

Wednesday, city leaders were discussing the problem of service refusals.

A new bill would, among other things, increase the fines for cabbies who refuse service.

Right now, a driver can be fined $350 for the first offense and $500 for the second one.

The third violation can result in the loss of a license.

If the new bill passes, the fines could jump as high as $1,000.

"We have to send a clear message, we need the higher penalties to send that message," said David Yassky, TLC Commissioner.

"I think it's a little harsh, but if that's what it is, it's what it is," Lopez said.

The TLC's commissioner says there has been a recent uptick in service refusals, which 500 reported in March alone.

Cab passenger Rawan Muqaddas wouldn't mind the situation improving.

The city council is also considering the mayor's proposal to allow livery cabs to accept street hails in the outer boroughs.

The discussion of this issue continues.

The city council hopes to vote on it in June.