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Commissioner’s Corner

June 2016

Go Green!
Greetings, I hope that you and your families are having a beautiful spring.  I am excited to begin this column by sharing with you that, as of June 13, anyone can purchase a Boro Taxi permit. You are no longer required to have a current for-hire vehicle license for at least one year.  Today, green taxis provide about 50,000 metered trips per day to transportation-hungry folks in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and upper Manhattan.  And Boro Taxis can also do prearranged trips and be hailed by apps. There are currently almost 7,000 overall green cabs on the road, giving passengers new options in our city's transportation network. 

Driver Fatigue and Safety
Above all else at the TLC, we prize and prioritize passenger and driver safety.  We want our driver licensees to come home safely to their families at the end of their shifts, as we do the passengers who depend on safe, for-hire service, and the pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers who share the streets with them.  Fatigued driving is a critical element of safety, and the TLC is targeting this important issue this year as part of Vision Zero, the city's effort to end traffic deaths.

Fatigue leads to slower reaction times from drivers and decreased ability to judge a situation quickly -- making it more likely that a driver will make an error and crash.  Perhaps most sobering of all is the scientific fact that being awake for 18 hours impairs a driver to a level equivalent to driving while under the influence of alcohol.  Six more hours – 24 in total -- and a fatigued driver is no different than someone driving while intoxicated.

Our existing rules only allow taxicab drivers to work twelve hours in a row.  However, this rule does not apply to black car, livery, or luxury limousine drivers, the sectors with rapid driver growth over the last few years.  We need clear, practical and consistent rules across all our regulated industry sectors that protect drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists from fatigue-related crashes.

In June, we plan to have a hearing on proposed rules that would prohibit taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers from picking up passengers for more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period -- and more than 72 hours in any seven-day period.  That clock resets if a driver has had more than eight hours off without pick-ups, giving him or herself time to rest.  Only a small proportion of our licensed drivers exceed the proposed hour limits, but these rules will make it safer for everyone on the road.

We encourage everyone reading this to share their thoughts on this important issue with us at the public hearing.

Enforcement

Speaking of protecting public safety and our licensees, I’d like to share a few points on our enforcement work with you all. Since April 12, our officers have conducted at the arrivals sections of JFK and LaGuardia that has led to the arrest of 16 peoplewho were illegally hustling. Also, in total since late 2014, the TLC has arrested 47 hustlers at the airports. The TLC has also held at least 107 joint operations with the NYPD over the past fiscal year, specifically targeting illegal commuter vans, which have yielded 565 summonses, largely for unlicensed operation. We have also partnered with the police department in twelve joint street hail operations in Manhattan since March. Needless to say, we’ll be keeping the pressure on illegal operators, and taking it up another notch with the addition of 75 new field enforcement officers over the next year.

Licensing
I am pleased to update you on the strong interest we are seeing from drivers in the Medallion-FHV (Med-FHV) License we introduced last year.  In fact, several thousand drivers are now using the combined license, which gives them greater flexibility when working in different parts of the industry, boosts their income potential, and is helping make our licensing process more efficient and simple. You can learn more here: http://on.nyc.gov/1U2e0oh.

I am also happy to announce that drivers who apply for a TLC license can now check on the status of their applications online, and easily find out if they are missing any documents required for the process. By visiting www.nyc.gov/newdriverapplookup, drivers can access the most recent information available with their license or application number from their TLC receipt or online payment confirmation form. Our hope is that these improvements are making our licensing processes more efficient, making it simpler for drivers to get on the road and earn a livelihood.

Taxicab partition
Following our commission meeting last month, erroneous media reports said that the Taxi and Limousine Commission was ending or phasing out partitions in taxicabs.  We had already allowed some medallion owners to use an approved in-vehicle camera system instead of a partition, and there were almost 320 taxicabs on the road without partitions when the updated rule was approved.  We expanded this option to all medallion owners during the meeting, since there are passengers and drivers who like each option for different reasons, and now have both options available to them.

Aiding the NYPD
 A TLC licensee helped the police last month by following a drunk hit-and-run driver in the Bronx for seven miles, aiding the NYPD in his arrest.  We are grateful that the licensee flagged down a police vehicle and told the officers what happened, and that the driver -- who was both intoxicated and using a suspended license -- has been appropriately charged by authorities.

I look forward to talking with you again next month. As always, stay safe and drive like your family lives here!

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