Following weeks of intensive training, which included observing field enforcement operations, the TLC saw its latest class of Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) introduced and sworn in at the most recent public Commission meeting. Chief Administrative Law Judge Carmena Schwecke (at right) administered the Oath of Office to the class of 10, which included professionals with deep and varied experience in the government, non-profit and educational sectors (one incoming ALJ is a former NYS Assembly Member!).
There are a few important things to discuss in the column, so let’s get right to it…..
First and foremost, for all those who have been asking for an update on the Black Car miles per gallon (mpg) regulation, there is some important news to share. I would like to announce that, due to the impact of the economic slowdown on the black car industry (which has now been officially termed a recession), the TLC has decided to defer the implementation of the mpg regulation for a period of one year. Another factor in the decision was the recession’s effect on companies that had committed to participate in a special loan fund to assist in the purchase of hybrid vehicles. This means that the required purchase of vehicles achieving a city rating of 25 mpg for use as black cars will be deferred for a period of one year – modifying the compliance date from January 1, 2009 to January 1, 2010. The mandatory vehicle retirement requirements that were also part of these regulations has likewise been deferred.
Readers of this column will recall that the requirement was initially announced last February as an important part of PlaNYC, the Bloomberg Administration’s plan to reduce the city’s carbon footprint in preparation for a significant increase in its population over the next several decades. The TLC greatly appreciates the assistance rendered by the Black Car Assistance Corporation (BCAC) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) in providing industry data to the TLC, as well as the overall cooperation and efforts to help the Bloomberg Administration achieve the goal of a cleaner black car fleet. We look forward to continuing to work with the BCAC and other black car stakeholders and industry leaders to further explore other options and opportunities to encourage more voluntary efforts and incentives to green New York City’s black car fleet.
Moving on, I think it is safe to say that New York City has very much shifted into Holiday mode. Of course, this means that the public is even more reliant upon the services of the taxicab and for-hire vehicle industries, making for what is probably the most lucrative period of the year for drivers. As is typically the case, the New York City Police Department has activated its holiday enforcement plan, in which the TLC participates in a major way. While this plan includes such well-publicized elements as “Gridlock Alert Days” and an enhanced “No Blocking the Box” campaign, I wanted to take this opportunity to point out that it is in no way limited to them! Please drive safely, be courteous to your passengers, and I am confident that despite our economic challenges, you can look forward to a lucrative and rewarding holiday season – especially considering the current price of gas!
I leave you with my most sincere and heartfelt wishes for a Happy, Healthy Holiday Season for you and your families…..and that it is followed by an equally happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!