The long-standing AAA Taxi company that has been in the Village of Floral Park went before the village board recently in order to renew its franchise agreement with the village. However, the board had its reservations at first.
“As everybody knows AAA Taxi is a long established business in our community,” said Mayor Dominick Longobardi. “We’re very grateful for the many years they’ve been a solid partner in our community and the things they’ve done. There are some questions that we have in regard to some of the things that are associated with their application.”
Representing AAA Taxi was Bay Shore-based attorney Karen Svendsen, who said that the company wants to increase their flat fee to $6 from its current $3.50 fee.
“They [AAA Taxi] are currently seeking not only a renewal, but a modification of the rate adjustment,” said Svendsen. “The current rate is $3.50 plus a 50-cent fuel charge. We are now requesting that rate be increased to a $6 flat fee with no fuel anywhere as a local fare.”
Svendsen cited all the great things AAA has done within the community, but said the new fee is justified.
“The current environment requires for a rate increase,” explained Svendsen. “New York State has passed a law in 2017 that requires our companies to continue to register and be monitored by villages, towns and counties. However, transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, where there’s an app involved are treated completely different. They do not have to comply with any village regulations. They don’t have to be inspected. They do not have to have their drivers background checked. They do not have to obtain permits. They do not have to run sex offense checks, which is all that we do, which incurs costs.”
Svendsen said the taxi company is asking for the $6 flat fee in order to be able to compete in the ever changing environment where technology has changed the industry.
“Our client loves this area,” said Svendsen. “We have permits to obtain, we have vehicle inspections, we have no surge pricing, there are insurance requirements and 24-hour dispatch requirements, which we comply with at a cost.”
Longobardi brought up the issue of AAA taxi’s double parking in front of its headquarters on Verbena Avenue.
“We have had some issues on that and I want to make sure that those issues are going to be addressed before we renew this agreement,” said Longobardi. “We are very grateful for the things that you do. However, unfortunately we do have other issues and that is one thing that I realize is part of doing business, but it has caused us issues. We and the residents need to be reassured that is going to be addressed and taken care of and will not happen going forward.”
Svendsen told the board that now she and the company are aware of the double parking issue, the company will make it a priority to make sure that the company is not congesting traffic in the village.
Trustee Lynn Pombonyo said that the issue spreads beyond Verbena Avenue and that AAA taxis are also double parked on Caroline Place near the Floral Park Public Library with taxis being parked in public spaces. Taxi drivers have also been observed double parking near the area talking to one another.
“We will implement a company policy for our drivers and make sure that they’re properly trained and that this is something that can cause possible termination if they violate the rules that the village is concerned about,” said Svendsen.
In terms of the double parking issue, trustee Archie Cheng said that there is a reason why there is no parking in front of the Chase bank that is located directly across the street from AAA.
“Our fire department vehicles access most of the village on the south side, north side and Hillcrest area by driving down Verbena passing Chase,” explained Cheng. “If your vehicles are double parked on that legal side of the street and cars are illegally parked in front of the bank, our fire trucks cannot get through.”
In order to prevent double parking issues, Cheng asked the board to consider amending the agreement to include Verbena Avenue in its entirety, along with Caroline Place and Atlantic Avenue.
Longobardi ended the public hearing with a motion to reserve decision about the fate of AAA within the village at a later time.