PHOTO: Horse carriages in Central Park will continue to be an iconic Big Apple sight, thanks to a new agreement between the City and the industry’s unions. Photo Courtesy of flickr.com/Branko
By Michael V. Cusenza
The City and unions representing members of the horse-drawn carriage industry have reached “an agreement in concept” to keep the iconic attraction in the Big Apple.
The announcement was made late last Sunday night in a joint statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio; Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; George Miranda, president of Teamsters Joint Council 16; Demos Demopoulos, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 553; and Teamster Carriage Driver Stephen Malone.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement in concept on the future of New York’s horse carriage industry. We look forward to working together on the final details of this legislation and getting this passed.”
After a new bill is hammered out, the Council will hold a hearing on it and then vote.
Under the new agreement, all stables will move to Central Park, and the number of licensed horses in the city will be reduced to 110 from 180, by Dec. 1, 2016. That number will drop even further to 95 when the new stables open in the park. Horses will be banned from traveling outside Central Park.
According to a New York Daily News report, officials will be required to fund and open a stable inside Central Park by 2018; the number of hours a horse can work a day will drop to nine; drivers will be allowed to charge an extra $5 for rides after 6 p.m. between Nov. 15 and Jan. 5 and on Valentine’s Day and Easter; horses not currently at work will be required to furlough outside NYC; and the City pledged to ban pedicabs from Central Park south of 85th Street.
“We think this is going to be a solid change for this city on many levels,” de Blasio said this week. “For a long time, I’ve talked about the fact that we need to get horses off our streets. Horses do not belong on the streets of the biggest city in the country in the middle of midtown traffic. It’s not fair and humane to the horses. It’s not fair to drivers – it creates congestion. There are a lot of reasons why this has to change. So, this agreement will achieve that. Horses will get off the streets of our city. In terms of the routes that they go on, in the course of this year, 2016, they’ll go into Central Park. Ultimately the stables will be moved and there’ll be no more horse carriages anywhere on the streets. Everything will be contained in Central Park. And it will obviously lead to many fewer horses being used in this industry. So, it’s a lot of progress. It’s real progress.”