Those green taxis zipping up and down the borough are still a rarity.
But more and more are expected to trickle in over the next few months.
Representatives from the Taxi and Limousine Commission, overseeing the newly-created Street Hail Licenses or Boro Taxis, have gone on several speaking tours recently, letting neighbors know the green cabs are coming to a borough over-saturated with livery cabs.
Green cabs first rolled out in August, part of the Bloomberg Administration’s plan to legalize street hails in the outer boroughs.
The TLC has been tasked to convert the livery cabs commonly found in the borough, equipping each vehicle with a taxi meter and GPS unit.
The Bronx is home to 30 cab companies found in Parkchester, Kingsbridge and Pelham Bay now cleared to serve as a home base for green cabs, which can continue taking call-in customers.
Roughly 1600 of 6,000 planned green cabs are on the road, thanks to a relatively cheap medallion license that initially went for $1,500. Next round of medallions will be doubled, with an estimated 2,000 drivers on the waiting list.
So what’s behind the lag? A lengthy process.
“The Bronx was a latecomer,” said Cira Angeles, who heads the borough’s Livery Base Owners Association in the borough.
For drivers to convert a livery cab into a standard green taxi, a number of steps need to be taken, including affiliating the license with a base, painting the vehicle, paperwork with the DMV, and securing appointments with the TLC. In all, the process can take up to 90 days.
With cabs green lit to go green in August, the likelihood of seeing all of them on the road is sometime in spring of next year, according to a TLC spokesman.
Converting a car isn’t cheap either. Between permits and remodeling a vehicle, drivers can expect to shell out thousands before getting their car out on the streets.
Wheelchair-accessible taxis have double the prep time to re-purpose their ride, with the first fleet of such cars set to hit the roads by summer 2014.
The TLC has been offering drivers grants to either buy or alter a wheelchair-accessible ride, which would likely help offset the sky high medallions for the specially-equipped cars.
Once they’re on the road, they can pick up anywhere in the borough. The downside is should a driver drop someone off in a restricted area, they are banned from picking anyone up, sending them home empty handed, opening up criticisms from green taxi naysayers.
Speculation has mounted over the future of the green taxis, with Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio reportedly saying he would like to “go back to the drawing board” on the plan.
The city is looking to read thoughts from Bronxites on the issue, encouraging anyone to log onto www.borotaxis.org to write a brief comment on where they were picked up and what the experience was like.