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November 2008

I would be remiss if I did not touch upon the challenging economic times we are currently facing.  While I do not believe that anyone or any industry will be immune to the downturn, I do believe that we can benefit from some of the positive lessons of history.  To look back for a healthy dose of confidence, one need only look at the black car industry, which has not only repeatedly survived difficult economic times, but went on to prosper robustly in the aftermath.  The medallion taxi industry has been similarly resilient, coming back to almost full strength within two months of 9/11.  Back to the present, I know that the fairly steep drops we have seen in the price of gas in recent months have been helpful, perhaps acting as something of an economic buffer for our regulated industries.  I am hopeful that our industries will continue to be positioned well during these potentially difficult times to come.  It goes without saying, however, that we will continue to monitor conditions carefully. 

 As many of our readers by now already know, there is a pending legal challenge to the TLC’s 25 MPG rules, which went into effect on October 1.  Although we did allow a small number of retirement-age vehicles to remain on the road during the proceedings, I continue to encourage our medallion owners to keep “going green” by voluntarily placing hybrids on the road sooner rather then later so that drivers can obtain the economic benefits of gas savings as well.  While there is nothing conclusive that I can say at the moment with regard to the suit itself, I do want to share a message with the men and women who drive taxicabs, much as I have shared this message with the riding public: you may drive these vehicles with the assurances of the TLC and their manufacturers that they are safe.   In fact, one very obvious indicator that a company disapproves of the way in which their vehicles are being used is for them to void its warranty.  Not a SINGLE warranty for any vehicle approved for use as a New York City taxicab has been voided.

I am pleased to report that the Ford Motor Company in particular has made it abundantly clear that they are entirely comfortable with the use of its Escape hybrid model as a New York City taxicab.  So again, you can rest assured that the hybrid vehicles you are driving today or will be driving in the future are safe for both you and your passengers.  So while you are helping the city to “go green,” enjoy the extra green that will be in your pockets as well! 

 On a particularly happy note, in one of many recent success stories made possible by the new taxicab technology that we have nicknamed “T-PEP”, and its use of GPS to help us in times like this, the irreplaceable antique viola and bows of Broadway and concert violist Ann Roggen, valued at $66,000, were recovered within several hours after it was left in a taxicab, which I hand-delivered to Ms. Roggen along with cab driver Deniz Getting.  Thanks to our “special delivery,” Ms. Roggen was able to play in a concert that very evening with her own instrument, instead of a borrowed one.  Making sure this was a happy tale through to its conclusion, Ms. Roggen was delivered to her New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra concert by none other than Mr. Getting, in the very cab in which she had left her instrument in a night earlier!  I was so impressed with Mr. Getting’s integrity, he is now a leading candidate for “Driver of the Year” at the TLC’s annual Driver Recognition Ceremony next March.

A thrilled Ann Roggen, at right, receives her lost antique viola and bows (valued at over $66,000)from TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus (center) and cabbie Deniz Getting, who is now a candidate for major honors at the TLC’s annual ceremony.
A thrilled Ann Roggen, at right, receives her lost antique viola and bows (valued at over $66,000)from TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus (center) and cabbie Deniz Getting, who is now a candidate for major honors at the TLC’s annual ceremony.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I wanted to offer my congratulations to Ms. Frances Studivent, a customer service professional in the TLC’s call center.  The TLC has worked particularly hard in the area of providing quality customer service over the last few years, and the results have been tangible.  So when the TLC, like most other City agencies, recently celebrated Customer Service Week with a number of events designed to enhance the service we provide to our clients, which we define as our driver, vehicle owner and business licensees as well as the riding public, we had a lot to celebrate!  The week’s events also served to single out those who have consistently provided excellent service, and to choose one such individual for higher citywide honors, including recognition by Mayor Bloomberg – who encouraged all city agencies to recognize our employees during this important week.  While the TLC truly does have some customer service superstars (in every department of our agency), our very deserving candidate was Ms. Frances Studivent, who has been with the TLC for almost three decades…..all spent in the agency’s Consumer Relations Unit.  Frances is knowledgeable, courteous, and really gives new meaning to the term “going the extra mile.”  Perhaps most tellingly, few in the agency have received the sheer volume of grateful letters, calls and emails attesting to her professionalism and kindness.  Bravo and well deserved, Frances!  But also my heartfelt thanks go out to every customer service employee of our agency, from those who work the windows in Licensing and Adjudications, to the Inspection lanes, as well as our very busy Call center – all of whom work hard to serve and benefit our customers – licensees and passengers alike.  Happy Customer Service Week!

The TLC's 311 Consumer Call Center celebrates Customer Service Week!
The TLC's 311 Call Center and Adjudication Staff celebrates Customer Service Week!

Commissioner Matthew Daus congratulates Customer Service Honoree Frances Studivent on a job well done.
Commissioner Matthew Daus congratulates Customer Service Honoree Frances Studivent on a job well done.

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