By all accounts, March has been an unusually busy and eventful month, even by TLC standards, and it is the Driver Recognition Ceremony that stands out foremost in my mind. With the assistance of each and every one of the TLC’s regulated industries, we shined a spotlight of honor on several of our finest taxicab, livery, paratransit, limousine and van drivers for their exemplary performance. While it was their day to shine, we were all humbled by the fact that they represented a multitude of “everyday heroes” that help so many passengers all year round. Thanks to the City’s 311 customer service hotline, we now hear many of these stories and can respond with events such as this to recognize a job well-done.
Honorees and guests at the Driver Recognition Ceremony enjoyed a breathtaking crystal-clear view of our cityscape from “Top of the Rock” (in Rockefeller Center), and magnificent catering from the world-famous Cipriani restaurant. Our “hats are off” to Tishman Speyer and its Managing Director Tom Madden, who were our gracious and generous hosts. Each of the award recipients received several gifts and an assortment of raffle prizes including ultra-deluxe hotel weekend stays, dinners at the City’s most exclusive restaurants, spa treatment days and gasoline cards worth over $1,000. We are so grateful to our event partner NYC & Company (the City’s Convention & Visitors Bureau) – and its tireless President Cristyne Nicholas – for arranging for these donations to our licensees for all that they do to support the hospitality industry. We were honored to receive a proclamation from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who let our drivers know how truly appreciated they are by proclaiming March 29, 2006 in the City of New York as “Taxi Driver Recognition Day.” The proclamation was presented by Josh Sirefman, Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff, who paid tribute to the TLC’s licensed drivers on behalf of the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor. It was truly a day to remember, and we look forward to celebrating this official day of recognition for years to come.
On other fronts, I am happy to report that we held two very positive meetings recently on issues involving the Westchester and Nassau County Taxi and Limousine Commissions. We are discussing the possibility of a legislative solution to this issue, and I remain optimistic about the progress made to date. This proposed legislation would seek to legally formalize the intra-State recognition of for-hire licenses by local governments in accordance with criteria to the terms of the reciprocity agreement between Westchester and New York City – so that the issue is resolved definitively for years to come.
I was invited to offer testimony at a recent oversight hearing of the City Council Transportation Committee on the topic of commuter vans. The Council has indicated it intends to propose legislation to improve van service, and I will keep our readers posted on further developments. For now, you can read my testimony and thoughts on the regulation of this important industry by accessing the following link to our website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/downloads/pdf/oversight_hearing.pdf.
Last, but most certainly not least, we are growing more excited each day in planning the next – and final – sale of new taxicab medallions. A total of 308 medallions will be offered for sale -- by sealed bid auction – this coming June. The 308 medallions include 62 to be used with alternative fuel vehicles, 54 to be dedicated for use with wheelchair accessible vehicles, and 192 unrestricted medallions. We are gearing-up for our outreach efforts, and invite you to either call 311 to be placed on our mailing list, or check our website at www.nyc.gov/taxi for more details as they become available.
Happy Spring everyone!