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Commissioner’s Corner

July 2015

Commissioner’s Corner

By Meera Joshi

Hello again, everyone…  I hope you are all doing well and making time to enjoy the nice weather we’ve been having.   As usual, it’s been another busy month at the TLC, so let’s get into it!

On May 28, the TLC held a public hearing on a set of proposed rules that would comprise a new rule chapter governing the electronic dispatch of For-hire Vehicles (FHV).   As we anticipated, the hearing was an abundant source of feedback and perspectives thanks to the testimony of dozens of stakeholders, as well as the reams of written comments.  Over the weeks following the hearing, we pored over every word, met and spoke with many stakeholders, analyzed constructive recommendations, and ultimately got to the heart of their concerns and perspectives, and then set about the task of solving as many people’s problems as possible without sacrificing any of the goals of the rules – safety, accountability, transparency and availability.

We believe the modest updates to the original rule package strike a fair balance between the TLC’s regulatory responsibilities and the concerns of those who would be most affected by its requirements.  Most notably, the rules were clarified to ensure that it is tech agnostic, as we had always intended it to be, while prudently regulating the provision of for-hire service, regardless of the type of booking tools used.  This tech-friendly approach to regulation allows dispatch technology providers to become licensees, rather than having to get a base license, which is far more difficult to get.
Plain and simple -- the bottom line goals of the TLC are safety, accountability, transparency, and availability, and to ensure that all necessary protections are in place regardless of whether a passenger gets into a green, yellow, or FHV, and regardless of whether they’ve summoned it by hail, phone, app, or any other means.  That is the purpose of these rules, plain and simple.

Here’s a link to the final rules:

The TLC’s Board of Commissioners is set to vote on the final FHV dispatching rules package at 10:30 a.m. on June 22, 2015.
Switching gears a bit, on June 9, the TLC, with the invaluable assistance of NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and NYC Media, launched a public service announcement (PSA) to highlight the issue of service refusal by drivers of both yellow medallion taxicabs and Boro taxis.  The goal of the PSA is to raise awareness of passengers’ rights with respect to service refusals by visually portraying examples of certain refusal types.  After demonstrating several service refusal experiences, the PSA concludes with a description of the different methods for contacting 311 and the vital information necessary to file a complaint.

I know the drivers reading these words take their responsibilities to heart, and would never be counted among those who make the poor decision to refuse service to a passenger for any reason, so let me say that this video PSA is as much for you as it is for the passengers who will be seeing it.  If passengers take the PSA’s message to heart, as we hope and expect they will, it will empower them to help us take action against those few bad apples that spoil perceptions for the bunch.  I’ve said it before, and I will say it again – no one dislikes a bad cabbie more than a good cabbie!

The PSA can be seen and heard throughout the City’s fleet of more than 20,000 yellow and Boro taxis, and is also available on the TLC’s website, www.nyc.gov/taxi and on our YouTube channel, http://youtu.be/NwNhZOEJRXY

In another important announcement on June 2, Council Member/Technology Committee Chair James Vacca and I announced the launch of the TLC’s Vehicle Safety Technology (VST) Pilot Program, an extension of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero action plan. The goal of the VST pilot is to explore the ways that in-vehicle technology may be employed to improve driver safety.

The initial pilot participants, IonFleets, Inc. and Mobileye, Inc. have installed their systems in a total of 18 TLC-licensed vehicles so far, including yellow taxis, green taxis, and FHV’s.  The equipment in the participating vehicles includes a combination of data recorders, driver alerts, in-vehicle camera systems, and related analytic software.  By testing these types of technology in TLC-licensed vehicles, it will enable us to evaluate their practical application and effectiveness in promoting safe driving practices.  It will also allow us to evaluate the unique driving conditions found in urban settings such as News York City and their effects on driving for-hire.

If you are inspired to join this important public/private partnership, please visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/industry/veh_safety_tech_pilot_program.shtml.  There is no limit to the number of approved providers or vehicles that can participate!

I’m pleased to report today that we are making great progress in fulfilling our goal of 50% wheelchair accessible yellow taxis by 2020.  On June 25, 2015, at 10 a.m., we will hold our first yellow taxi medallion accessibility drawing on the 19th Floor of 33 Beaver Street, New York, NY 10004.  In keeping with the rules approved by the Commission on April 30, 2014, this drawing will begin the fleet conversion process that will make it easier for mobility-impaired customers to get a taxi.

This drawing will be limited to those unrestricted independent medallions with vehicles that are scheduled for retirement between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016.  The medallions selected in this drawing will be required to place an accessible vehicle into service when their current vehicle is retired.  The medallions not selected in the drawing are not required to place an accessible vehicle into service when their current vehicle is retired – but they will have to do so at the time of their next following retirement date.

The drawing will be open to the public, though space is limited.  For those unable to attend, the event will be streamed in real-time at www.livestream.com/nyctaxi.

After the drawing is complete, the TLC will post the results within 24 hours.  For more information about the drawing, please see Industry Notices 15-22 and 15-23.

I’d like to take a moment to update all drivers on a policy change regarding bans on applications for those who have had a previous TLC license revoked.  Drivers whose prior TLC license was revoked under either the Critical Driver or Persistent Violator programs may request a reduced application ban if the driver’s state license lists no more than three DMV points for all violations within the last three years and it has been at least one year since you were issued a summons for violating the Critical Driver or Persistent Violator programs.  For more information, please see Industry Notice #15-21 (http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/downloads/pdf/industry_notice_15_21.pdf).

Before I sign off, I’d like to thank the Riverside Softball team for such a warm welcome at their recent season opener.  It was so wonderful to see so many drivers enjoying each other’s company, and truly celebrating the industry that brought them and their families all together.  The camaraderie I saw that day was incredibly inspiring, and I was grateful to be a part of it, even if only for a few moments as I “burned” that first pitch across home plate!  Of course, I know that Riverside is FAR from the only base out there that takes their summer softball seriously, so I’d like to wish everyone a safe and wonderful season!  PLAY BALL!

That’s all for this month……Until next time, stay cool and PLEASE, drive safely!

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