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Commissioner’s Corner

October 2014

By Meera Joshi

Hello, everyone……by the time you all read this, summer will have officially passed, so I’m wishing everyone a happy autumn.

I am sorry to begin this column on a sad note, but we were recently made aware of the passing of Terrence J. Moakley, a tireless advocate for persons with disabilities, and someone that the TLC has worked closely with for many years.

Terry was a true pioneer in working toward accessibility in the taxi and for-hire industries, going back at least the more than 17 years that we’ve know him here at the TLC.  There is no doubt whatsoever that the progress we’ve made has some of Terry’s spirit in it.

I think it is a fitting tribute to Terry that United States District Judge George B. Daniels approved the accessibility plan agreed to jointly by the City and the Disability Advocates.

I truly think Judge Daniels said it best, when he opined that “We should not minimize the importance of this historic moment.  Decades from now, most will take it for granted.  But this is one of the most significant acts of inclusion since Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.  It is an act of a city that equally values all of its residents and visitors.

“I commend the plaintiffs and their lawyers for their persistence, and the mayor and the city’s representatives for the good judgment that today’s agreement represents.  It makes us a better city. It is simply the right thing to do.”

Speaking of the right thing to, the TLC held its first annual Vision Zero Driver Safety Honor Roll event at BMCC to honor 295 taxicab and for-hire vehicle drivers, and acknowledge their having a minimum five-year safe driving record.  We were honored to have Mayor Bill de Blasio there to thank the drivers for their commitment to safety and to the mayor’s Vision Zero plan, and I know the drivers and their families appreciated the mayor’s words.

To those of you who were with us that day, you will totally understand what I’m saying, but let me just say that the thing that really stood out for all of us was seeing all of the families there, laughing, celebrating, and just sharing the experience of their family member’s having been singled out for appreciation of a job done well.  You had to see the pride in their faces – and I did, having taken individual pictures with each and every driver.

My colleagues Ed Gonzales, Elias Arout and LaShann DeArcy all spoke from the heart, and we were privileged to have Commissioner Frank Carone acting as the morning’s emcee.  Councilman and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez presented a proclamation to mark the day.

The Honor Roll honorees are a great example – and will be great mentors -- for their fellow drivers, and we look forward to seeing many more on next year’s list!

Of course, I can’t talk about the Honor Roll event without mentioning our good friend Fred Amoafo, who covered more safe miles – 190,000 of them, to be precise – over the past five years than any other taxi driver in the city.  Fred spoke eloquently about the importance of safety to him as both a professional, and as a father.

As I said at the event……it must have been quite a moment when the honorees opened that envelope and didn’t see something serious or scary from the TLC!

We’re looking forward to speaking and presenting on the subject of our Vision Zero and safety technology efforts next week at the International Association of Transportation Regulators’ 27th annual conference in New Orleans this coming week.  We look forward to discussing shared experiences and challenges with our counterparts from TLCs from around the world.   As usual, people are very interested in what’s happening here in New York City.

I saved the best news for last, though…..fresh from his appearance on the cover of the New York Daily News, Fred Amoafo has been named by the IATR’s Board of Directors – a respected group made up of my regulatory peers from numerous cities and countries – as the IATR’s International Driver of the Year!  I believe this is the first-ever International Driver of the Year from NYC, and so we are extra proud that Fred was chosen.

Before signing off, I would like to take a moment to congratulate Kelly’s Car Service on the occasion of its centennial of service.  In this age of apps and new technology, it’s so interesting to see where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.
William Kelly started the business 100 years ago and ran it until his passing in 1947.  His wife Wanda Kelly took the reins and continued to run the business until joined and then succeeded by William Kelly, Jr. in 1950.  He, in turn, ran it until his son Ed and daughter-in-law Eileen Kelly took over in 1984.

Representing the next generation of Kelly’s Car Service at our most recent public commission meeting to accept our expressions of recognition was the founder’s great-granddaughter Caitlin Kelly, who has been working there since graduating Hofstra several years ago.

Until next month, stay well, and DRIVE SAFELY!

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