Transportation Policy

Bloomberg Tries to Legalize Taxis for Poor People

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You know those creepy black cars that sidle up to you late at night on the streets of New York City, tempting you with illicit rides? (Of course you don't—it tends to happen more to girls.) In light of the serious cab shortage in the outer boroughs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) wants to legalize street pick-ups for livery cars, perhaps making it a little easier for a black man to catch a cab in New York:

Livery cabs outside Manhattan could soon be allowed to pick up passengers who hail them from the curb under a proposal that Mayor Bloomberg included in State of the City address Wednesday.

Longtime livery cab driver Hipolito Sime, now a manager at Evelyn Car Service in Brooklyn, said the change would be a big help for residents of underserved neighborhoods in his borough.

"Bed-Stuy, East Flatbush, East New York, Sunset Park. Where you see a big group of minorities, that's where you're most likely to see the car service, and the yellow cab's not going to go there," he said.

Predictably, the hack union objects even though the proposed reform is relatively tepid—taxified livery cars would still have to charge the regulated rate, and this liberalization will not apply to the fertile Manhattan taxi market. New York City's cab service is notoriously regulated, and Bloomberg's choice of his 10th State of the City address to announce the proposal shows that he realizes how much of a challenge getting the support of the City Council will be.

On the upside, the power of the taxi lobby is a good sign for the American melting pot: It shows that no (cab-driving) immigrant is too recent to this country to feel entitled to government privileges at the expense of their fellow Americans.