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COMMISSIONER'S COLUMN

March 2010

Greetings!  Let me begin by mentioning that, yes, after nearly 14 years with the TLC, and almost nine years at its helm, I will be leaving the agency.  My second term expired on January 31st, but the Mayor has asked me to continue serving as Chair until he appoints a successor.  I will be leaving the TLC for private sector opportunities which will be more appropriately announced after my departure.  Having worked for City government for almost 16 years, I can say that there are few things in life that have been as rewarding as public service and helping people – so I have decided not to leave entirely.  I will be taking on several other roles that will keep my hand in the public sector and will stay involved in the Bloomberg Administration.

One of these roles will be at the City University of New York’s Transportation Research Center.  The UTRC is one of ten original University Transportation Centers established in 1987 by the U.S. Congress, and their faculty members provide a critical link in resolving national and regional transportation problems while training the professionals who address our transportation systems and their customers on a daily basis.  The UTRC represents the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Region II, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Functioning as a consortium of twelve major Universities throughout the region, UTRC is located at the CUNY Institute for Transportation Systems at The City College of New York, the lead institution of the consortium.  The UTRC supports research, education and the transfer of technology in the field of transportation.

What is most exciting about my upcoming work with the CUNY UTRC is the fact that it never before had a taxicab/ground transportation component, which is something that I will able to create from the bottom up.  Aside from my personal experience as TLC Commissioner/Chair, my role as President of the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR) will assist me in injecting the perspective of my fellow regulators from across the nation and abroad.  This position will broaden my transportation experience and allow me to stay involved with and help our regulated industries in new and progressive ways.  I see exciting – and very tangible - possibilities coming from this project, so stay tuned for updates!

In another way to keep my public service career active, I am also proud to announce that, in recognition of my extensive experience in labor and employment law, Mayor Bloomberg has asked the Civil Service Screening Commission to review me for nomination and subsequent appointment as Commissioner to the New York City Civil Service Commission (CSC), an independent “quasi-judicial” agency which hears and decides appeals under the New York State Civil Service Law.  Many of you may not have known this, but I was a Human Rights prosecutor when I first joined City government.  

Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg has requested that I stay around until a replacement has been found, and I was only too happy to do that.  On a personal note, it is difficult for me to put into words exactly what an honor and a privilege it has been to serve in the Administrations of both Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.  Not only was I given the necessary freedom and support to get things done, but I had the opportunity to learn from these great leaders firsthand – lessons that will stay with me always. I am confident that Mayor Bloomberg’s search will yield the most intelligent, qualified candidate imaginable – whom I will still be able to work with immediately in my new role at the Transportation Research Center.

Before going onto other business, I also would like to take this opportunity to send a message to all of the terrific people in the taxicab and for-hire vehicle industries with whom I’ve worked so closely with over the years.  It would be truly impossible to mention all of these individuals by name, but you know who you are, and I want you all to know that I have cherished your friendship, your devotion to the industries you represent so well, and the tremendous integrity you’ve shown in getting things accomplished together.  While sometimes we may not have agreed on many things, what’s important is that we listened to and respected each other, and all had the same goals of better customer service, safe transportation and an economically healthy and vibrant industry.   I will not be going far, and I look forward to keeping in touch with you all for many years to come.

Now, on to other business!

I am pleased to announce that the TLC’s Web site (www.nyc.gov) home page now has a link to a new, up-to-date list of Relief Stand locations – where you will be able to park for up to an hour for a meal, a bathroom break, or just catching up on phone calls.  Many of you have been asking for this list for a while now, but it took some serious research to accomplish, thanks to construction relocations and other complications.  So, thanks for your patience….we are very pleased to be able to bring it to you now.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, and as recently as last month, but it’s now only days away from coming to fruition, so I wanted to take this opportunity to once again mention our Group Ride plans. 

We’ll begin with a ceremonial kick-off with me and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan on Thursday, February 25, but the first full morning of actual operation will be Friday, February 26.

The basics are remarkably simple….specific locations where passengers can get into a taxicab, and take that taxicab to a common destination, with the flexibility of hopping off along the specified route, and all for a discounted flat fare of $3 or $4 that is less expensive for the passenger, but yet earns more for the driver.

These stands – three initially (see the box below) and others to come in the near future -- will operate between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. on weekdays, with signage explaining how they work to passengers so there’s no confusion.  We’ll also be handing out lots of palm cards with details so there will be no surprises for drivers OR passengers.

Pick-Up Location
End Point
Fare / person
W 57th St / 8th Ave57th St to Park Ave/ 42nd St. – along Park Avenue$ 3.00
E 72nd St / 3rd Ave Park AvePark Ave / 42nd St. – Along Park Avenue$ 4.00
W 72nd St/ColumbusPark Ave / 42nd St. – Along Park Avenue$ 4.00

Serving these new stands will be voluntary for drivers, but once you try a few Group Rides, I am confident that both you – and riding public – will be back for many more!

Last, but not least, I should also take a moment to mention that I was recently privileged to join Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler and Commissioner Sadik-Khan to announce the “You The Man” campaign, which is a new, multiplatform marketing campaign aimed at reducing driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New York City.  The targeted campaign encourages New Yorkers to plan to have a designated driver before they embark on a night on the town -- or to be a designated driver for their friends.

The most interesting aspect of the campaign from the TLC’s perspective is the fact that we introduced a new online "Find-A-Ride" tool, which allows people who access it from the campaign’s Web site (www.YouTheManNYC.org) on either a computer or the mobile browser of a Smartphone to simply punch in an address to find safe, licensed for-hire service providers.  In the near future, visitors will even be able to text the information to their cell phones…..exciting stuff, and a great way to cap off a record low year of traffic fatalities in the city.  We were thrilled to have contributed to this great program, and I am confident that it will truly make a difference.

YouTheManNYC



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