By Meera Joshi
Greetings, everyone! I hope you are enjoying the summer and as staying cool as possible. There has been a lot happening at the TLC, and I am pleased to share the latest developments with you.
While it will not go into effect before November 1, 2016, TLC Commission members unanimously approved a package of rules aimed at preventing driver fatigue and making our streets safer for all, drivers included. Between now and November 1, we will analyze additional data and continue to meet with stakeholders to see if any adjustments need to be made, with the goal of fashioning the most precise system possible that truly reflects the daily realities that drivers and other stakeholders have shared with us. We very much appreciate the perspectives that drivers, industry leaders and other experts have given us in testimony, as well as in the many discussions that followed. We hope that you continue to share your valuable feedback with us, and we will keep you informed about our progress.
Connectivity Challenges in Long Island City
While I am very hopeful that, by the time you all read this, the heatwave-related technical difficulties we’ve been facing at our Long Island City Licensing offices will have been alleviated, but I did want to take this opportunity to thank you all for being so understanding. As I write these words, the facility has been closed for two days and we are about to announce a third. Of course, we’ve been through emergencies of every stripe before, and as always, TLC staff has dug in and put their best efforts into the full restoration of services (with some dedicated staffers even working tirelessly through the wee hours this past weekend!). But this time around, I am so grateful that we’ve invested the time, resources and know-how in creating more on-line transactional functionality – like LARS -- than we’ve ever had available before. And I have a strong feeling that there are many licensees out there who are just as grateful as I!
In the event that the connectivity problems are still an issue by the time you read this, please visit the TLC’s web site at www.nyc.gov/taxi for updates.
Disability Pride on Display!
I am proud to say that the TLC had a sizable contingent at the recent Second Annual Disability Pride Parade – pictured below – led by our Accessibility Program Manager Alexander Elegudin (seated, third from left).
Just to recap a few examples of where we are at present, the number of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs in NYC has tripled since 2013, from 237 to 850 taxicabs on the road, and almost 300 new wheelchair-accessible taxicabs have gone into service in the first six months of this year. The number of wheelchair-accessible green cabs has also risen impressively, growing tenfold since 2013, from just over 100 to 1,104 in 2016. Also of note, wheelchair-accessible taxicabs made nearly five million trips last year, and we anticipate that growing to almost six million for 2016, which would almost double the number of trips made in 2013.
Expanding Our Horizons
The TLC was recently invited to participate in the City’s first-ever Himalayan Community Town Hall in Queens, which addressed many of the issues faced by this vibrant community, including those of some of the many taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers who are a part of that community. Pictured is Kala Wright, the TLC’s Director of External Affairs, who did an admirable job of representing the agency before the 450 attendees.
I am gratified to share with you all that our well-known and highly-respected executive director of policy and analytics, Rodney Stiles, has been promoted to Assistant Commissioner of Data and Technology. Rodney quickly established his place in the TLC’s policy department when he joined us from the Department of Planning, and needless to say, he is incredibly well-regarded among data experts, both inside and outside of City government. Congratulations, Rodney, we are very excited to have you in this new role!
We are also happy to mark the 20th TLC anniversary of someone that virtually everyone knows -- our Deputy Commissioner for Public Affairs, Allan J. Fromberg. Warm, bright, and always approachable, Allan has not only thrived but has even kept intact his unique sense of humor under three mayors, five TLC commissioners, 20 commission members, and 26 transportation beat reporters, just to name a few of his milestones. He always delves into the complexities of an issue before boiling it down for the most efficient dissemination, and he is always responsive to inquiries, regardless of the day or time. We are grateful to have someone as talented and committed as him represent the TLC during his more than two decades of public service, and we wish him many more years of success in this career that he still loves so passionately.
Until next time, please stay safe, stay cool, and always drive like your family lives here!