Central Planners Determine New York City Needs 6,000 New Taxis That Can Only Pick Up Passengers Outside of Manhattan

May 16th, 2011

Let it be written, let it be done.

From The City Room Blog at NY Times:

Eight million New Yorkers. Thirteen thousand yellow cabs. It is a ratio that can flummox a person, particularly during a rainstorm at rush hour.

A new proposal by the city, however, promises relief: more than 1,500 additional yellow cabs could soon be plying the streets, bringing the total taxi fleet to around 15,000, its biggest size since the Great Depression.

And in what would amount to a radical shift in the makeup of the century-old taxi industry, the city also wants to create a parallel class of cabs only allowed to make pickups outside Manhattan. And the city wants to create a lot of them: 6,000, to be exact.

“That’s no experiment — that’s a whole new fleet of taxis,” one well-placed source said.

No, because experimenting with prices and quantities are silly things for the free market to do. These experts know exactly what they’re doing. Now of course, increasing the supply will no doubt provide more cabs. My snarky comments are directed at the City’s draconian limitation of supply, and thereby limitation of the freedom of cabbies everywhere trying to earn a living without paying an exorbitant monopoly rent to obtain a medallion.

Taxi medallions are sold through an action. In the past, some have been sold for nearly $1 million.

I remember when I left New York and I saw taxis that were not yellow, I was confused. Good thing New York controls the color of taxis.

The plan represents the latest version of the Bloomberg administration’s attempt to provide better taxi service for New Yorkers living outside Manhattan, the traditional territory of the yellow cab. An initial attempt, to simply allow existing livery cabs to pick up street hails, was met with fierce opposition from industry groups and politicians alike.

The new class of yellow cab — which may or may not remain painted yellow, depending on how negotiations turn out — would be restricted to picking up only street hails. Prearranged rides, the bailiwick of today’s livery-cab industry, would not be allowed.

And of course, entrenched interests fear new competition and wonder whether the market can sustain this many new cabs:

Some taxi industry figures privately worry whether the taxi market outside Manhattan can sustain 6,000 new cabs. These people, none of whom would speak on the record for fear of upending the current negotiations, say it is hard to know the true sense of demand in those markets for street hails, particularly in less-dense residential areas.