Greetings, everyone! I hope you are having a very pleasant and productive fall. Here are some of the latest developments at the TLC, from celebrating our safest drivers to the approval of our universal driver’s license rules.
Vision Zero Safety Honor Roll
As always, it gave us great pride at the TLC to honor our safest licensees during our third annual Safety Honor Roll— and it was our largest number of honorees so far. The exemplary driving records of the honorees bring us closer to achieving Vision Zero, our city's plan to end traffic fatalities, and set the tone on the road for safety. Many of the 377 honorees-- who safely made an astonishing 1.87 million trips in 2015-- also have amazing stories, and I will share a few with you.
Honor roll licensee Ajit Singh Bharth is a model driver in more ways than one. Bharth graced the runway in his debut during Men's Fashion Week in New York after catching the attention of a men's fashion label with his individual style -- aviator bifocals, as well as a full white beard, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Fashion label Eidos account executive Quinton Clemm was so struck when he watched Bharth drop off his passenger that he followed his cab for two blocks -- until he was able to catch the taxi at a red light! Bharth’s sense of style was a treat for everyone who participated in the Honor Roll, as you can see in this photo of us following the ceremony.
We also honored Staten Island father and son Eliot and Howard Kugelman with a legacy award. Eliot received his license originally from the NYPD Hack Bureau, and worked as a TLC-licensed driver until he was 83. Last year was the first time he did not renew his license! Howard is a second-generation driver who has been on the road for 38 years, and has made the Honor Roll for three years in a row. He told us that when he was ten years old, his father let him ride with him in the front seat on one special day each year -- and even let him keep his tips! "He basically bred me to be a taxi driver," Howard told us. He likes to frequently take breaks to rest when he's on the road, but shared with us a sweet tip: he carries Hershey Kisses with him. "It gives you a nice boost when you are behind the wheel," he said. We could all use some extra sweetness in our life, and it was a privilege to honor two New Yorkers who have given decades of quality service to our city.
Other honorees at the ceremony included the base Cautious Cars -- whose name is perfectly-aligned with the message of Vision Zero. Base co-owner and retired detective Eric Lerner talked about how they constantly and positively reinforce a message of safety and consideration with drivers at their Queens base. "We named our business Cautious Cars because of the great care our drivers take with passengers during trips, as well as everyone they share the streets with," said Lerner.
We also honored twenty drivers who distinguished themselves through their outstanding service to persons with disabilities in the TLC's Accessible Dispatch Program. They made an average of 14 trips a week in 2016, and we appreciate their efforts to help make our city accessible to all.
On that note, I would like to share with you all some recent highlights from our Accessible Dispatch program. In August, the program dispatched 5,528 trips -- our highest month ever! Almost 40,000 trips have been completed year to date, and we are looking forward to expanding the program to citywide pick-ups next year. If you need a wheelchair-accessible taxi in Manhattan, our program will conveniently connect you with one. To request a cab, there are many options -- you can call 311 or our dispatch center directly at 646.599.9999, text the number 646.400.0789, use the mobile app WOW Taxi (Wheels on Wheels), or book through the website www.accessibledispatch.com.
There are also more than 950 wheelchair-accessible vehicles on the road, up from 237 in 2013. This is an important milestone, and we are grateful that the number of accessible cars continues to grow and provide greater service to the riding public.
Filing New Vehicle Applications Online
I am pleased to share with you that new vehicle applicants can now upload the required documents online at https://www1.nyc.gov/lars. It is no longer necessary to come in person to our licensing facilities, and any document you may not have when you file the application online can be e-mailed to the TLC once it is available. Our drop-off service ends on October 31, 2016, and we hope you enjoy the convenience of this new, fully-digital process.
Universal driver’s license
As of September 26, every taxi and FHV driver’s license is valid to drive yellow or green taxis, liveries, or limos. Automatically upon your renewal or request, each For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) or taxi driver will get a new universal TLC Driver’s License. [insert photo]
Taxicab and for-hire vehicle drivers with existing, valid licenses do not need to get the new license.
Holders of TLC Driver Licenses will be held to the same standards and monitoring as those that are currently in place for all taxi and FHV drivers.
The new TLC Driver License will create unprecedented opportunity and flexibility for both drivers and businesses by ensuring that a large driver pool is available to garages and bases. Licensees will be able to choose more freely across for-hire transportation industries, apps, hail services, business models, and vehicle types.
Are you interested in checking the status of your application for a TLC driver's license? Thousands of applicants have visited our web site www.nyc.gov/newdriverapplookup to see if they have completed all of the requirements, and checked for an update on their application status. The convenience of this new tool can save you valuable time during the application process. If you cannot find your number on the page, please e-mail the TLC at email@example.com.
Hundreds of people applied for an IDNYC at pop-up enrollment sites at our Staten Island and Long Island City facilities. IDNYC is a free government-issued ID card for all New York City residents with benefits that include a free one-year membership at many cultural institutions, as well as discounts on Citi Bike, recreation centers, and grocery stores. IDNYC can also be used as a library card and a prescription drug discount card. If you missed the TLC pop-ups, you can still apply at 26 conveniently-located enrollment sites citywide. For more information, just go to http://www1.nyc.gov/site/idnyc/card/locations.page or call 311.
Until next time, be safe and drive like your family lives here!