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COMMISSIONER'S COLUMN

December 2005

I would like to begin this column by saying how pleased I am with the progress we have been seeing with regard to hybrid-electric taxicabs.  As of this writing, there are 20 of these vehicles on the road, serving the public, helping us to gauge their future as New York City taxicabs.  Of the 20, 18 are Ford Escapes and two are Toyota Highlanders, and it is my understanding that we have a Toyota Prius just “around the corner” that is about to join them.

On a less positive note, there is once again talk of a transit strike, due to the expiration on December 15 of the contract between the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and MTA/NYC Transit.  It is well understood that the industries regulated by the TLC are not merely transportation modes that operate in a vacuum from one another, but rather are components of a vast and comprehensive transportation network that move millions of people in New York City in every conceivable way.  Were such a strike to occur, millions of commuters and visitors would potentially be affected, at what is arguably the most inconvenient time of the year; a time when New York City is traditionally and historically on display as the world’s holiday jewel.  We have gone through exercises in readiness before, and each time we have asked for and have generously received our industries’ assistance in the absence of subway and NYC Transit bus service.  While we all know that our taxicabs and for-hire vehicles cannot replace that service, we also know that their potential to help people during such a difficult period would be immense, as would be their desire to provide that help.  Please keep posted for further information as the City puts the final touches on its Strike Contingency Plan.  The role of the TLC and its regulated industries will be disclosed shortly, so in addition to listening to the media for further developments, please stay in touch with our website and the website for the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

Another area of some contention has been the situation brewing between the Nassau County TLC and New York City’s Black Car industry.  In a nutshell, Nassau County, unlike New York City, requires a permit for drop-offs as well as pick-ups and has set much higher fees for outside operators than for Nassau licensed vehicles; both of which are issues that have created some discord.  This has sparked a lawsuit between Nassau County regulators and the Black Car Assistance Corporation.  I know the people on both sides of this disagreement to be reasonable, intelligent, and professional individuals.  I have confidence that a mutually agreed upon compromise may be reached and that, at the end of the day, the riding public receives the services it both requires and deserves .

I wish all of you a most happy, healthy and prosperous holiday season.


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