The green taxis that were put in place to expand street-hail cab service in the boroughs outside of Manhattan have made 5.8 million rides in the program's first year of operation, the head of the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission told a City Council committee on Monday.
Commissioner Meera Joshi told the City Council's transportation committee that most of the trips started and ended in the same borough. In Queens, for example, it was 1.4 million out of 1.6 million trips.
Speaking to reporters after her testimony, Joshi said she was surprised by how quickly the program had taken off.
"There was in general a quick uptick in terms of public reception to the program. Now we see them everywhere," she said. "I think it's a testament to the idea itself, that it was a well-deserved, meaningful, needed service that the city now has."
Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who heads the committee, questioned Joshi about concerns such as the process for buying and selling permits, enforcement of zones in Manhattan where the outer-borough taxis are not allowed to pick up fares, and the need for cabs that are accessible for disabled passengers.
The committee heard from yellow taxi owners and drivers, who also asked that the city assess whether there was a risk of oversupply with the plan to release more green taxi permits.
Taxi driver Erhan Tuncel, managing director of a cab group called the League of Mutual Taxi Owners, said he used to be able to pick up fares in parts of Brooklyn and Queens that were near Manhattan, but now those areas are filled with green taxis, and he has to go elsewhere.
"Looking for a fare where hundreds of" green taxis are "just does not make sense," he said. He added that enforcement also is important and that city police officers should be brought in to make sure commission rules are being followed.
Joshi said new permits are likely to be given out starting in August. She said there would be 6,000 permits available, and the commission already has a waiting list of more than 6,000.
Disability advocates also spoke at the hearing, asking for more accessible vehicles.
"I think the green cabs are great; there need to be more of them," said Dustin Jones, a member of Disabled In Action of Metropolitan New York.