By Meera Joshi
Hello everyone, I hope you are all staying warm and driving safely.
I have a few updates to share since my last column, so let’s dive right in!
During our August Commission meeting, we approved a Commuter Van Decal Pilot to make licensed commuter vans more visible to the riding public. I am happy to report that the pilot program is already off and running. We have signed MOUs with fifteen Commuter Van Authorities and have several more authorities going through the approval process. Collectively, the fifteen current participants affiliate over 155 commuter vans.
Several commuter vans have already been affixed with the pilot decals, with the first few having been installed last week.
We hope to keep the installations rolling and have these decals affixed on all of our participants’ vehicles as quickly as possible. As more and more operators affix the new decal, the public will gain a new and clearer way to identify a licensed commuter van.
The city as a whole has seen some fairly significant safety changes this past month. On November 7, the city’s new default speed limit of 25 MPH officially went into effect, which will benefit our licensees in a number of ways. It will create a safer work environment for them all – and everyone deserves a safe work environment -- but it will also help both passengers and drivers understand the shared responsibility of putting an end to traffic deaths and injuries.
I want every driver reading this to know we are doing our best to get the message across to passengers to tip for safety. We are encouraging them every chance we get and reminding them to tip their drivers for a safe trip, rather than a speedy one. With everyone doing their part -- drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists -- we can save lives and reach Mayor de Blasio’s goal of Vision Zero.
Speaking of safety, I am pleased to announce that Mayor de Blasio signed the “Taxi and Livery Driver Protection Act” into law on November 5. This new law will allow taxis, liveries, commuter vans and paratransits to display signage clearly stating the consequences for assaulting a TLC licensed driver. If even one potential predator is deterred by one of these decals, it will have done its job, but I believe it will work far better than that.
Surrounded by happy legislators, industry leaders, drivers and their families,
Mayor de Blasio signs Intro. 82 into law.
I would like to thank all the industry groups who fought tirelessly to get this law passed. I would also like to thank the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Rory Lancman, and also Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez and Speaker Mark-Viverito for their efforts in making this bill a reality. And last but not least, I would like to thank the Mayor, on behalf of the entire industry, for signing the bill into law. I know our drivers really appreciate it.
Let me also share some good news about our Uniformed Services Bureau. Since we last spoke, we have graduated 32 TLC Inspector cadets, who are now in the field, protecting both the riding public and our legitimate licensed businesses from unlicensed, illegal poachers. Here they are, below, being sworn in. I’m pleased to report that this class was among our highest academic achievers!
Before signing off until next month I would like to recognize the accomplishments of three members of the TLC family.
First is an individual that many of you already know, Mr. Stan Shames. Our resident medallion transfers expert spent his final day at the TLC on November 18, to enter the well-deserved business of retirement. Stan has handled countless medallion transfers over the course of his 36-year career with the TLC, and I honestly don’t know if there is anyone on this earth that understands the process any better than Stan. I want to publicly thank him for his many years of dedicated service to the TLC and to the industries we serve. We are sad to see him go but wish him all the best in his retirement.
Next, I’d like to thank our deputy director of personnel, David Pearlmutter, for his 11-plus years of dedicated years of service with us. If you don’t know David, he was the TLC’s behind the scenes personnel guru who, among other things, was highly instrumental in getting our inspector cadets hired, and then getting them from the classroom into the field, where they are protecting public safety and supporting our licensees. We wish David the very best of luck in his new position with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, New York City Automated Personnel System (NYCAPS) HR Processing Unit.
I was saving this news for last, because it has brought us here so much pride and elation, but it is my great privilege to let you all know that our friend and colleague, LaShann DeArcy, has been nominated by President Barak Obama, with the enthusiastic support of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, to serve as U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District. This is an incredible opportunity for her, and really an honor and a privilege for all of us who are fortunate to work with LaShann.
We couldn’t be happier for her and her family. I know she will bring to the bench the integrity, the sense of fairness, and the piercing intelligence that we’ve come to know as her hallmarks in the few years we have been so blessed to have her by our side.
Godspeed and congratulations, Commissioner DeArcy!
Until next month, stay well and DRIVE SAFELY! And remember, 25 mph isn’t just a good idea anymore…..it’s the law!