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Taxi Turmoil

Hicksville-based Sunset Taxi owner Phil Fortuna is suing the MTA and the Town of Oyster Bay, stating that parking spaces reserved for taxis have been illegally changed.

A 30-year veteran in the taxi industry and president of the Long Island Taxi Transportation Owners, Fortuna said that the MTA (which owns the land) and the town (which formerly controlled use of the space) violated the terms of a lease signed in 1965.

Fortuna explained that the MTA eliminated a taxi stand that provided space for 10 taxis, which were previously shared by his 20 cabs and those from other town-approved companies. Those spots were recently given to two competing taxi companies, who were awarded the spaces following a bidding process.

“This doesn’t just affect Hicksville, the busiest train station in Nassau County, if not all of Long Island. It affects all residents because they don’t have a choice. Before they had a choice of seven cab companies, now they have a choice of two,” said Fortuna, who said that the original 1965 lease noted that a minimum of three companies must have access to that area.

Oyster Rides Taxi Co. and Long Island Yellow Cab are Fortuna’s two competitors that currently lease the designated taxi spaces. The number of parking spaces offered to these companies, 27, also violates the amount specified in the 1965 lease (22), according to Fortuna.

Neither company could be reached for comment as of press time.

The MTA recently put taxi concessions at 15 LIRR stations up for bidding. Later this year, the MTA will begin a major renovation project at the Hicksville LIRR station to improve the overall efficiency and appearance.

“So how do you sink $130 million on a train station and take away the taxi stand? I’m hoping that the Town of Oyster Bay’s elected officials come to their senses and do what’s right for their constituents, not their political allies,” Fortuna said.

The Town of Oyster Bay, citing ongoing litigations, declined to comment.