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Commissioner’s Corner

July 2013

Good news abounds this month, and I am very pleased to share it with you all!  First and foremost, the Court of Appeals – the highest court in the state of New York – has upheld Governor Cuomo’s Boro Taxi law, as well as the framework of rules for this program, and we are well into the process of welcoming eager applicants and walking them through the process.  As we speak, we are working our way through almost 2,000 permit requests – several hundred of which are for wheelchair accessible permits.

I’m grateful to Mayor Bloomberg, whose vision of a city made more equal by the existence of “Manhattan-quality” hail taxi service in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and north Manhattan, was the engine that drove our efforts.  I’m also grateful to the elected officials who stood up to the special interests that sought to derail our efforts.  I’m thankful for the dedication of TLC staff, many of whom sacrificed nights, weekends and family time to make sure the hard work of bringing Street Hail Liveries from concept to reality was done.  I’m also grateful for the advocacy of the many supportive drivers and bases……and you know who you are!  No matter how daunting the opposition, they never faltered in their faith and belief in what we were fighting for, and I am thrilled that their faith has been rewarded.

There is a treasure-trove of information on the Street Hail Livery program on our web site at www.nyc.gov/taxi.

On the very same day we got the good news about Street Hail Liveries, another court gave us the news that it was releasing the E-Hail Pilot Program from a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), and so passengers now have a new way to call a taxicab.  Whatever side of the issue you’re on with regard to the (I believe unfounded) belief that someone has to siphon business from someone else for e-hail to work, if you put yourself in the shoes of the passenger for a brief moment, you’ll understand that trying to take technology out of people’s hands is like holding back the ocean.

Last but FAR from least, I am writing these words having just adjourned a public Commission meeting at which our Board of Commissioners voted overwhelmingly to pass the enabling rules for the Taxi of Tomorrow

As with most before the TLC, the arguments both for and against were passionate, and the discussions deep and meaningful.  I think the weighing of this particular issue, however, was uniquely noteworthy in that it inspired a truly diverse coalition of civic and business leaders, as well as prominent emergency doctors and safety advocates, to say with almost one voice…..the Nissan NV 200 Taxi of Tomorrow is what our city wants, needs and deserves……that the time has come for NYC to have a purpose-built cab that gives passengers AND drivers a better, safer and smarter ride.

Prominent emergency physician Dr. Rahul Sharma (left) gets an inside look at the NV 200 Taxi of Tomorrow, courtesy of Nissan’s Peter Bedrosian  Dr. Sharma was among a number of doctors who supported the ToT for its advances in both passenger and driver safety.

It’s a funny thing about these public meetings, though.  Just pick any meeting in the TLC’s history and you will see that there is no shortage of industry folks who will argue the pros and cons of a given issue with the same passion and conviction of a Mr. Smith “going to Washington” and delivering a filibuster on the position of their choice.  What we don’t have, however, are passengers who join them in these debates.  We don’t have a “straphangers” group as the MTA does, and so it typically falls to the TLC to represent and advocate for passengers, and be their voice.

Commissioner David Yassky gives NY 1 reporter Bobby Cuza a guided tour through the NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow

Today, a group of leaders that would be on anybody’s “who’s who” list of great New Yorkers took on that important role and said, “Yes, we support this!”  And not only did they have passengers on their minds, but also drivers.  They were acutely aware that the vehicle is markedly safer than the current batch of taxicabs for both passengers and drivers, and that it will be crash-tested WITH the partition for the first time ever, but also that drivers will, for the first time, have a seat and driving compartment tailored to their needs.  Today, whether a driver is 5’4” or 6”2’, the seat they will be spending at least 10 hours a day in, is frozen in place.  In the Taxi of Tomorrow, their seat configuration can be as flexible and unique as they are.  I’m grateful this group felt moved to act as they did.  I can only hope this becomes a trend.

Until next time, be safe and be well! 

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