So, we have a mixed bag of topics today. Let’s begin with the Taxi of Tomorrow. As many of you reading this will have already learned, a state Supreme Court judge last week invalidated the Taxi of Tomorrow (TOT) rules and hybrid rules which required unrestricted medallion owners to, after October 27, hack up with the Taxi of Tomorrow or an approved hybrid. The City is seeking expedited review of this decision and a stay of the Judge’s order, but we do not know when a court will rule. In the meantime the TLC’s current standard, hybrid and accessible specs remain in effect, and you can refer to the TLC website for a list of approved vehicles. If the Supreme Court decision is reversed or stayed, the TOT and hybrid rules as adopted will immediately go into effect and be applicable to any hack ups after the effective date.
That having been said, the Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow fully meets TLC taxi specifications, and it is available for purchase on a voluntary basis until such time as the appeal has been successfully concluded. More to the point, however, this is a truly superior taxicab that will undoubtedly become the gold standard for owners, drivers, and especially for passengers, and I have every reason to anticipate that it will be a popular option for medallion owners and operators alike. Drivers and passengers will love this taxi, and as everyone reading this knows, happy drivers + happy passengers = a happy taxi industry!
Okay, time to brag a little. I’ve been reporting for some time that the TLC’s Uniformed Services Bureau has really been shining lately with regard to breaking its own illegal poacher seizure records, and I’m pleased to say that we have continued to build on our successes – to the tune of more than 10,000 year-to-date! In other good news, we swore-in a class of 17 new Inspectors this week – making this the seventh graduating class in the last year, and increasing our field strength by more than 100 officers in a historically brief period of time. With their extensive academic and field training, this talented group has already hit the ground running!
Want some more good news on the enforcement front? Happy to oblige! Our long-anticipated JFK Airport satellite facility – the first ever of its kind for us -- is now up and running and producing some pretty amazing results! Incredibly, our squads there are averaging 17 illegal vehicle seizures per day, taking these vehicles that are poaching business from our legitimate licensees off the road and out of the picture!
Here’s yet more good news…..the TLC’s on-line transaction system which currently allows existing licensees to conveniently renew their licenses without having to appear in-person at the TLC has been expanded, and is now allowing folks to pay summonses on line, provided that no court appearance is required. All the info you’ll need on this new customer service innovation is available on our web site at www.nyc.gov/taxi.
The first of a number of medallion auctions is on the horizon, with 200 wheelchair accessible Minifleet (Corporate) medallions offered for sale in lots of two through the receipt of sealed competitive bids. Bids will be accepted in person on November 7, 8, 12 and 13, 2013 at 33 Beaver Street, and these bid be publicly opened on November 14, starting at 9:00 A.M. at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street. The minimum upset price for Accessible Minifleet Medallions is $850,000 per medallion or $1,700,000 per lot. Needless to say, there is a truly amazing amount of information available on our web site for this as well. Since I know lots of folks will want to stay tuned for information on the first batch of Individual medallions, I will once again recommend that readers sign up for e-mail updates at http://www.nyc.gov/register!
I’ve saved the best for last. So, I am writing this column a day after our monthly public commission meeting, at which I reported on the continued “greening” of New York City thanks to the successful Street Hail Livery (SHL) program. To date, there are 537 fully-equipped and hacked-up SHLs serving the riding public, with MANY more in various stages of the licensing process. We have also seen over 400 livery bases receive Street Hail Livery endorsements. Like so many things we at the TLC do, it has its fans and its critics. Oftentimes, it is the critics that get the lion’s share of attention…..but not always. At this particular meeting, my fellow commission members and I were privileged to hear the testimony of Ms. Jenny Ahmed, vice president of PIA Car Limo in Brooklyn, who said that, in no uncertain terms, Boro Taxi ownership has made a major difference in the lives of the drivers she works with. Aside from the increased earnings they report to her, Ms. Ahmed recounted the pride they felt when they had completed the licensing process, urging her to take their picture so they could proudly send it home to family in Pakistan. She also told of having helped two drivers sign up for Affordable Care Act coverage just the night before, paving the way for them to come off the Medicaid rolls. Ms. Ahmed spoke to movingly, and so eloquently, that she inspired a NY Post article (http://nypost.com/2013/10/18/outer-borough-cabbies-cleaning-up/).
“It’s the American dream,” she said, “and it’s coming true for them and I want to thank the TLC for that.” Thank YOU, Jenny Ahmed, for truly understanding what this can mean to people, and for partnering with us to make it a reality.
Until next time, be well and be safe.