The rules, which resulted from legislation that Albany passed last summer and that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed in December, will allow the city to start selling licenses for up to 6,000 livery cabs in June. New Yorkers who previously had to call a livery cab for service will now be able to hail these cars as they do traditional taxis.
“Today we are solving a problem that has been decades in the making,” David S. Yassky, the commission’s chairman, said. “I will not claim that this is perfect. But it does address the key issues.”
It was far from a smooth journey to the commission’s vote, with the latest obstacle on Wednesday, when the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, a lobbying group, sued the commission, seeking an injunction to block the rules.
The lawsuit argues that the new rules violate the rights of yellow taxi medallion owners and drivers paying for the legally protected, “exclusive” right to pick up street hails.
Many details of the new livery cars, including what uniform color they will be, have yet to be decided, but commission officials were confident the details would be sorted out quickly.
At the commission meeting Thursday, taxi and livery drivers packed an auditorium at Brooklyn Borough Hall to boo and applaud some 40 speakers, many of whom compared their opposition to the changes to some of the greatest struggles of recent history.
“I think you guys had your mind made up before you even met with us,” Vincent Sapone, managing director of the League of Mutual Taxi Owners, said. “I don’t want people coming in my house and eating my food.”
Members of the livery industry seemed more pleased with the rules, which legalize work many have been doing for decades.
“For over 40 years, our industry has been waiting for this day,” said Cira Angeles, spokeswoman for Livery Base Owners Inc. “It will forever change how our industry has been viewed.”
Some speakers warned that creating a second tier of licenses could drive down the overall prices of yellow taxi medallions, which can cost as much as $1 million. One of the speakers, Richard Chipman, a licensed New York City taxi broker with Westway Medallion Sales, said that yellow medallions would lose 10 percent of their value. That could mean that many taxi medallion owners who bought them without putting more than 10 percent down could owe more money than the medallions are worth.
Retired taxi drivers who depend on income they receive from leasing the medallions could also suffer from their declining value. Sandra Detoni spoke at the meeting on behalf of her father, Gabriele, a retired taxi driver who uses the income from his medallion to pay for his cancer treatments and living expenses.
“What is your medallion going to be worth after you vote and flood the industry?” Ms. Detoni said. “Before you make these decisions, please keep in mind all of the lives you are affecting.”
In a deal brokered by the Bloomberg administration and the governor’s office, the commission will issue up to 18,000 permits for the livery cabs over a three-year period and will make sure that one-fifth of the permits are for cars that are handicapped accessible. After the commission sells the first round of the permits in June, it will be able to sell 2,000 more medallions to taxi drivers.
Two of the nine commissioners voted against the rules and said the board needed more time to research the plan.
“It’s like ‘Shoot now. Ask questions later,’ ” said Nora C. Marino, a commissioner who emphasized that she still supported a plan for taxis in the outer boroughs. “Let’s put this off for a couple of months.”