First, may I wish all of you reading this, and your families, a most happy and healthy New Year!
I think the theme of this, the first Commissioner’s Corner of 2007, will be the fact that we have begun a new year with a clean slate upon which to write our achievements and activities to come, and so this will be a brief entry. That having been said, I want to highlight some positive pieces of TLC-specific legislation that were signed into law by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on December 18. I look forward to the Commission passing regulations early this year to implement and comply with these new laws.
First among them, Intro. No. 158-A, was a bill to create vehicle retirement-related incentives for the use of clean-air and accessible vehicles as medallion taxicabs, to build upon the work we have done so far to place additional numbers of these vehicles on the road. This law will have several tiers, with both accessible taxicabs and “Level One Clean Air” taxicabs – which currently include the Toyota Prius, Camry and Honda Accord hybrids – being eligible for two-year retirement extensions. Vehicles that currently have three years on the road would be eligible for an additional year. “Level Two Clean Air” taxicabs, a designation that currently includes the Ford Escape and Toyota Highlander hybrids, are eligible for one-year extensions. Under the provisions of this new law, the TLC will continue to set eligibility requirements for clean-air and accessible vehicles based on their performance in TLC inspections. The law would also “sunset” after seven years, allowing the various stakeholders an opportunity to measure the law’s success in achieving its goals of promoting the growth of appropriate clean-air and accessible vehicles as part of the city’s taxi fleet.
Intro. No. 352-A charges the TLC with the welcomed responsibility of developing, implementing and monitoring a plan to increase the number of clean-air and accessible taxicabs and for-hire vehicles in service. Components of the plan include the setting of milestone dates, and an annual informational workshop and educational campaign for our licensees.
Intros. 353-A and 354-A specify that the TLC shall require the operators of clean-air and accessible taxicabs to display their status as such on the exterior of each vehicle, highlighting the taxi industry’s willingness to embrace these new kinds of taxicabs. The passengers of clean-air taxicabs will also have information available to them about these vehicles’ levels of cleanliness, making them truly educated consumers.
I believe Mayor Bloomberg himself summed these legislative initiatives up best just before signing the aforementioned bills into law, when he said that, "Expanding the number of medallions for accessible and clean-air vehicles by creating incentives and developing promotional strategies demonstrates our Administration's commitment to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities and protecting the environment, while at the same time ensuring that taxi safety and reliability remains strong.”