Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The New York State Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a state law authorizing the city’s establishment of street-hail livery service in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island and northern Manhattan, as well as the City’s sale of 2,000 additional medallions for wheelchair-accessible yellow taxicabs, which is expected to generate approximately $1 billion in city revenue over the next few years.
“With this decision, we can finally bring safe, reliable taxi service to the four and a half boroughs that don’t currently have it,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “That’s a victory for everyone who lives in, works in or visits New York City. This will also advance our efforts to make taxi service available to people with disabilities, by adding 2,000 wheelchair-accessible yellow cabs to the streets.”
In three related cases, Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade v. Bloomberg, Taxicab Services Assoc. v. State of New York, and Greater New York Taxicab Assoc. v. State of New York, members of the yellow taxi industry and other plaintiffs alleged that the law was unconstitutional, claiming that the New York State Legislature enacted the state law in violation of certain procedural and substantive requirements of the New York State Constitution.
Expressing concern over the balance between state and local power, the plaintiffs in each case argued that the state lacked constitutional authority to pass the law without a “home rule message” from the City Council. Some of the plaintiffs also asserted that the state law violates the New York Constitution’s “Exclusive Privileges Clause” by limiting eligibility for the new HAIL licenses.
New York’s highest court found that the state law is designed to advance a substantial interest in improving access to street-hail transportation throughout the five boroughs – especially for disabled people and people who live in or spend in time areas of New York City historically underserved by the yellow taxi industry.
“TLC is eager to move forward with its street-hail livery service program so that street-hail service is available in areas of the city where yellow taxicabs rarely go,” said Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky, a former Brooklyn City Councilman. “We are also eager to put more wheelchair-accessible for-hire cars on the road and look forward to working with the disability advocacy community to implement all of the progressive programs for service to the disabled already in motion.”