Locally licensed taxicab drivers and the Westchester County Taxi & Limousine Commission, according to an attorney, “are fighting a mini-war.”
The TLC issued $15,400 in fines over a 70-day period, when some cabbies tried to pick up customers at Westchester County Medical Center.
Arrow Taxi, Splendid Taxi and five drivers represented by attorney Jeffrey I. Klein claim that the TLC has no legal authority to regulate local taxis.
They petitioned Westchester Supreme Court last month to dismiss the tickets and stop county police from issuing the summonses.
Spokeswoman Catherine Cioffi said the county does not comment on pending litigation.
The tickets can be burdensome, as traditional taxi drivers are seeing their incomes drastically curtailed by competition from lightly-regulated services such as Uber and Lyft. A White Plains taxi medallion that cost $80,000 two to three years ago, now costs $20,000, Klein said, “because nobody is making any money.”
Forty-nine summonses were issued to the petitioners at the hospital.
Janet Pajares, for instance, owns a Toyota Prius licensed by White Plains and bearing a taxi medallion sticker. County police issued six tickets on March 4, totaling $1,475, for not having valid county permits and other violations.
On April 9, she wracked up seven more tickets and $1,600 in fines, and on the same day, N.F. Gonzalez-Salom, driving another Toyota Prius owned by Pajares, was fined $825 for five alleged violations.
Cab drivers Gustavo Q. Alvarado, MD Bulbul Ahmad and Miguel Angel Puin, also licensed by White Plains, have been ticketed under similar circumstances.
Locally licensed taxis, according to Klein, may drop off passengers at the Mount Pleasant medical center, but they get tickets for picking up passengers there.
The petition claims that the TLC is violating its own regulations.
The TLC may regulate “for-hire vehicles” – motor vehicles used to transport fewer than 20 passengers on a pre-arranged basis – anywhere in the county.
But the regulation “shall not apply,” according to the county code, “to taxicabs, buses or wheelchair accessible vehicles.” Taxis are defined as motor vehicles that carry no more than five passengers that are licensed by a local municipality or by the TLC.
Locally licensed taxis, according to the petition, “are expressly exempt from regulation by the … TLC.”