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New York City Sued by Taxi Owners Over New Car-Service Law

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April 18 (Bloomberg) -- A group of taxi fleet owners sued New York City and Mayor Michael Bloomberg over a new law allowing car services to pick up passengers who hail them outside Manhattan.

The Metropolitan Taxicab Board filed the lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan today, seeking to have the new law deemed unconstitutional. The law abolished rights and privileges that have existed for the taxi industry for more than a century “with the stroke of a pen” and without public hearings, a city council vote or environmental and economic reviews, according to the suit.

“The primary beneficiaries of the new scheme will be a select group of licensees -- livery drivers and owners -- many of whom have openly violated laws that have been in effect for more than 50 years,” lawyers for the board said in the suit. The Long Island City-based group calls itself the largest U.S. taxi fleet association, with 33 members and about 3,500 taxis.

“A great deal of careful thought and consideration went into the adoption of this important new transportation initiative,” Ave Maria Brennan, senior counsel in the administrative law division of the city’s law department, said in a statement. “We are confident that it complies will all legal requirements - and that this challenge will be rejected by the courts.”

Other Boroughs

Governor Andrew Cuomo struck a deal with lawmakers in December for the city to permit car services to pick up passengers who hail them on the street outside Manhattan. The state legislature passed the law in February and rules to implement the legislation are scheduled for a vote at a Taxi and Limousine Commission hearing tomorrow, the board said.

Car services, also known as livery cabs, will also be permitted to pick up passengers who hail them on the street in other boroughs and in northern Manhattan where taxi availability is limited, according to a state Assembly memorandum. Previously, only yellow cabs were permitted to pick up fares on the street, while car services were legally limited to calls dispatched by radio.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

The case is Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade v. Michael R. Bloomberg, 102472/2012, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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