Green taxis cluster in small number of neighborhoods

A few prime neighborhoods are experiencing an embarrassment of taxi riches, where green and yellow cabs both often compete for the same passengers.

“They’re finding out where to go very quickly,” Angel Ramos, 56, who drives a green cab, said of his fellow hacks in newly metered livery vehicles.

He had paused to pick up a passenger in Morningside Heights, in upper Manhattan — one of the easiest places in New York City, he says, to find a fare.

New data from the Taxi and Limousine Commission confirms Ramos’ instincts. Morningside Heights one of the top three places in New York City to hail a green taxi, a livery cab licensed to pick up street hails outside Manhattan’s central business district and airports.

Yet hailing a cab of any color in the Bronx or most of Brooklyn remains a stiff challenge, if city statistics are any indication.

According to numbers on the top 30 neighborhoods served by the Boro Taxi program through November 10, Morningside Heights ranks first, followed by Astoria, Queens, and the southern part of East Harlem.  

Northern East Harlem, Forest Hills and Central Harlem are also popular pickup spots. North Williamsburg, the most common location in Brooklyn, ranks ninth, with 11,275 hails.

The top nine neighborhoods account for more than half of all the green taxi rides so far.

The Bronx makes its first appearance in the top 30, with cabs proving popular in near Yankee Stadium and courthouses. In August, no Bronx neighborhoods were among the top spots to hail a green cab.

That doesn’t mean the Bronx has embraced metered livery cabs.

A green taxi cruises Morningside Heights in Manhattan — an area also well served by yellow taxis. Photo: Claire Moses

A green taxi cruises Morningside Heights in Manhattan — an area also well served by yellow taxis. Photo: Claire Moses

“The Bronx is light still,” said Ramos, who lives in the borough. On the Grand Concourse, he lamented, “people will wave me off. They think it’s more expensive.”

The thousand-plus green cabs now on city streets have accounted for roughly 300,000 rides since early August, according to the city. 

The color green is only going to grow more visible: TLC has awarded 6,000 licenses and pledges to ultimately release 18,000 in all, more than the 15,000 yellow cab medallions now in circulation (and auctioning at sky-high prices). Unlike yellow cab drivers, most drivers of green taxis own their cars.

As more green cabs flood the street, the most frustrated passengers may be those in zones that are yellow-cab only, who spot a green cab discharging a passenger but then cannot jump in for a ride. Green taxis are not allowed to pick up any rides on Manhattan below West 110th or East 96th streets.

On a recent Saturday night, two women hopped into what appeared to be an available taxi on Seventh Avenue and West 17th Street and were dismayed to find that the cabbie was unable to turn on his meter. (The cabs’ GPS shuts meters down outside the approved hailing zone.)

In the would-be passengers’ defense, green and the yellow can be hard to distinguish in the dark. But it was with a loud indignance that she exited the car, without a ride.

“Don’t get into this cab!” one of the women warned another taxi-seeker on the curb. “He doesn’t have a meter!”

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