New Green Taxis
I find myself so excited about the new “Green Taxi” (NYC Boro Taxi) program, since it was first announced last year, and then I followed the ensuing fight for and against it. Was so glad it finally went through this summer, and watch as more and more former “livery cabs” go “green”.
As the NYC taxi is an iconic part of the city, but they have gravitated away from the outer boro’s to focus mainly on the central business districts of Manhattan (I do believe they were more widespread when I was young), it makes me feel more apart of the city again, though they are slow to show up in my particular area. (Read that nearby Fenix car service is apart of the program, but still not seeing any around here).
I can remember as a child you had the standard yellow taxis, and there were red taxis, and I always wanted to go on one of those for a change, but was told they were more expensive. So I take it, this was probably a “car service” in or around Flatbush at the time. I didn’t know about car services, or so-called “gypsy cabs” (who may or may not operate out of a car service “base”. Later, I began noticing different colored cars from some company that had “Livery” in the name; my first exposure to the word).
I really didn’t get into livery cabs until courting and marrying into the fairly isolated neighborhood of Ridgewood (Where Fenix and Liberty are strong, and until recently, in the less minority section, Four Ones), and they were often needed where buses and trains were very slow, and she particularly didn’t like Transit.
Where city cabs use a meter that clocks the time as well as the miles, the livery cabs generally set the prices, based on a, I guess you could say, “market” kind of rate, and you can bargain them. Still, these generally flat rates are usually higher than the meter.
So metered cabs were something that would be very useful in a neighborhood like this, and you do see the yellow ones once in awhile, but they’re likely bringing someone in from somewhere else, or off duty. Even when you do catch one over here, he’s usually trying to head back to Manhattan, or at least the Long Island City area which is where the city cabs are generally “based” out of, and may only take you if you’re heading that way, or at least not too far out of the way. (I don’t think they’re supposed to refuse you for anywhere within the city like that, though).
Meanwhile, you see livery cabs lined up in transit hub areas like Myrtle-Wyckoff (by me) and Broadway Junction. They really aren’t supposed to pick up street hails. When running late, I’ll run to one of the bases in the area, and they’ll radio the nearest car, and it usually takes a few moments. If I’m somewhere else, I may be in trouble.
At Broadway Junction, they generally want $20 or more to go to Parsons-Archer (Jamaica), which is a quick stretch down the Jackie Robinson. With a meter, it would probably be as little as $10 or so. All those emergency trips from Manhattan to Bedford Park or Van Cortlandt-242 (north Bronx) I used to make when working in those places were IIRC, no more than $20, at least before fares started going up.
The first green taxis featured in the new stories were generally in northern Manhattan and the Bronx. They were made a color called “apple green“, or basically a pale pear color, that sometimes gets close to lemon yellow. Where the “yellow” cabs are like a slightly reddish yellow (sometimes almost amber, generally close to the in between school bus or so-called “cheese bus” color), which is what I call “traffic yellow” —the same color as the yellow signals when they were incandescent, and also the color the signal heads are usually painted, plus any yellow road sign in general; the new color is like a greenish yellow. While not my favorite color, it’s bright and interesting, and nicer than the gritty old reddish yellow. (I like how they also changed the school crossing signs from traffic yellow to fluorescent/neon lemon yellow).
So now, instead of yellow vs red, it’s yellow vs green. (Haven’t had an occasion to ride a green one yet).
Printed over the paint job is the black circle “T” logo NYC cabs have taken on in recent years, but with “BORO” in place of “TAXI”, plus an image of a person waving for “Meter Fare” (also on regular taxis), and for “Flat Fare”, in place of an airport symbol on yellow cabs, it has a phone symbol, for if you call, as previously for these cars.
They retain the “T#####C” license plate numbers, where city cab plates use the medallion number.
They are designed to pick up in the areas where it’s hard to find a yellow cab. They are not allowed to pick up where the yellow cabs frequent, which is Manhattan below E96/W110 (basically, the Harlem-Upper East/West Side line), and the airports. The GPS system now installed on all meter cabs will cause the meters to not work when starting in those areas. So they can only take someone in to those areas.
Where I’m seeing a lot of them, quickly beginning after the program passed, is at 71st-Continental Avenue, Forest Hill, now the other end of the (M) line. (Most common bases are Skyway and Grand Car & Limo. Base company names are printed on the rear side panels). They have part of Queens Blvd near the corner fenced off to build an elevator for the station, and right in front of it, by the Vitamin Shoppe is this little pocket where the livery cabs wait, and now most of them, at least in the afternoon, are the new Boro Taxis.
This was needed, as years ago, trying to get home from there was so difficult. You could wait for the Q23, which winds slowly towards Metropolitan, then have to transfer to the Q54, then to the (M)’s other end there. Or take the livery cab, and pay. At other times, I would be down the way a bit, at Kew Gardens (where Jamaica Yard is), and it’s even more difficult, and one time I wanted an hour, as none of the yellow cabs were stopping, and I wasn’t seeing any livery cabs for a long while.
Here’s an article on the lack of coverage:
When asking drivers themselves if they are interested in the program, most mention the lack of money to buy a medallion.
While regular medallions seem to be a number followed by a letter and then two more numbers (#X##), Boro Taxi’s seem to be getting AA and AB followed by a three digit number. (XX###. The demo models in the articles have “BT123”). Also saw an AC number.
They look a bit different also in that most NYC taxi models are Ford Crown Victoria, Toyota Camry, the newer Ford Transit Connect (smacks of the futuristic “Johnny Cab” from Total Recall!), and various Toyota, Ford and Honda/Hyundai SUV’s (I think I do see hybrid Toyota Prius’s occasionally, and I see the all electric Nissan Leaf mentioned, but I’ve never seen or at least recognized one. Have to look out for that one —According to Wikipedia, only six are being tested, and so far only four are running. Good luck for me finding those!)
Most Livery cars on the other hand are Lincoln Towncars. (AB806 is a Crown Victoria, and there are some Camry’s as well).
What I’m not seeing yet is any SUV’s in the boro scheme yet. (The livery car services certainly have them).
Some of the cars even have the standard LED backlit rooftop ad signs like city cabs. (Especially the Camry’s).
(I wondered if they would ever get those flashy amber LED signs with LCD screen that show sports scores and such, but I’m not seeing those anywhere now. It seems on city cabs they’ve been replaced with just this flat printed sign).
It was reported that some gypsy cabs are painting themselves in the green color to fool people, but from what I have seen, these are simply cars entered in the program waiting to receive the medallion. They paint the car first, then when they get the medallion, add the marking and the roof light and everything else.
The plan is to sell 6000 medallions each year for the next 3 years, so there will be a total of 18,000 of these cabs around the city (which is more than yellow cabs, which are a little more than 13,000). So far, I think they said 2000 have been sold. (Which would make sense, if the number scheme runs 001(?)-999 for each letter. So AC would be the 2000 mark. So 18000 would close out the “AR” series. Unless they skip I and O, which they probably will, so then it would run up to AT. Not sure how the regular medallion number series works. May be just “1A01-99; 1B01-99, then 2A01, etc. up to 9Z99).
So when this is finished, it should be very easy to get one in the outer boros. Can’t wait!