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Commissioner’s Corner

December 2016

City of immigrants

  • Greetings, everyone! As we enjoy the holiday season in our extraordinary City, I would like to share the TLC’s gratitude and respect for the immigrant professionals who drive for-hire in New York City.  Over 130,000 immigrants, who make up more than 90% of TLC-licensed drivers, safely transport over a million New Yorkers and visitors every day.

    Driving a taxicab or for-hire vehicle in New York City has been a stepping-stone on the path to the American dream since there have been taxis and for-hire vehicles.  The service provided by TLC-licensed drivers, who hail from 167 countries, has always been critical in keeping our city moving.  And there is nowhere else in the country where such a qualified and diverse group of drivers performs this level of transportation service.

    Lady Liberty in New York Harbor: Immigrants make up more than 90% of the drivers licensed by the TLC.

    The TLC knows well and truly appreciates the value that immigrants bring to the industries we regulate, as well as their overall contribution to our City’s achievements, so thank you for your service!  Whether you come to New York City from the Dominican Republic, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Haiti, China, or one of the dozens of other countries that have helped NYC become the world’s capital for taxi and for-hire service, we are proud and lucky to have you so many of the newest Americans here.

New commissioner

  • It was a pleasure and a privilege to welcome Kenneth Mitchell, a lifelong Staten Islander with a distinguished career in public service, to our Board of Commissioners at our most recent public meeting.

    Kenneth C. Mitchell

    Commissioner Mitchell has served as the executive director of the Staten Island Zoological Society since 2011, and previously represented Staten Island’s North Shore communities as a New York City Council member.  Commissioner Mitchell also served as General Counsel and Chief of Staff to former council member Michael McMahon.  He has an extensive history with a variety of Staten Island organizations, including Lifestyles for the Disabled and the Staten Island Economic Development Committee.  For more about Commissioner Mitchell, I invite you to visit our web site’s Board of Commissioners page at http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/about/commissioners.shtml#kenneth_mitchell.

Bronx Taxi/For-Hire Vehicle Driver Resource Summit

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Community Affairs Unit recently held its first-ever Taxi/For-Hire Vehicle Driver Resource Summit, and the TLC was happy to accept their invitation to participate.

    Boro taxi driver Cristian Herasma, Green Taxis of New York’s Nancy Soria, and the TLC’s Director of External Affairs Kala Wright during a Bronx resource summit for drivers.

    The summit, held in the Southeast Bronx on Oct. 31, was a great opportunity to connect drivers and their families with services and programs designed to help improve their lives.

TIF Driver and Owner Programs

  • I would like to take a quick moment to highlight the significant opportunities that the Taxi Improvement Fund programs offers for TLC-licensed drivers and vehicle owners to earn more money, while making our city more accessible to residents and visitors with disabilities.  Bi-weekly payments have averaged more than $80 per driver, and almost 1,300 drivers have enrolled in the program as of the end of October.  Almost 500 vehicle owners have also enrolled, with average payments of more than $16,000 this year to help them get these important vehicles on the road.  We are gratified that these programs both make our streets more equitable and provide new financial opportunities for drivers and owners.

Accessible Dispatch Program

  • Last month, the TLC held a public hearing on proposed rules that would create the framework for our promised expansion of the TLC’s Wheelchair Accessible Dispatch Program citywide, and we look forward to a Board vote in December.  During the hearing, we shared a segment of the documentary “The Long Wait,” which detailed the challenges that filmmaker/director Jason DaSilva faces when he travels in a wheelchair from his Brooklyn neighborhood to Manhattan.  During the film, DaSilva used a ferry and several buses on a trip that takes more than one hour and 40 minutes.  On his way back, however, he returns to Brooklyn much more quickly thanks to the TLC’s wheelchair Accessible Dispatch Program.

    “What a difference it makes for me and people in wheelchairs to call to get a wheelchair-accessible cab,” DaSilva testified during the hearing.  “This will be huge for people in wheelchairs in the outer-boroughs.  We’re coming one step closer to making this a reality, to really making it possible so that people in wheelchairs are living normal lives-- able to get around just like everyone else.”  We look forward to the greater equity and mobility that the planned expansion will bring to so many New Yorkers, as well as the millions of visitors that join us every year.

We Get Compliments!

  • There is no question that complaints about TLC-licensed drivers gather more attention than the outstanding work that the vast majority of taxicab and for-hire vehicle drivers do every day, so I wanted to take some time to highlight their achievements.  Here are a few heartfelt tributes….

    “This driver was incredibly helpful, kind, and understanding. He was extremely empathetic, and went above and beyond to reduce my anxiety, and get me to my destination safely and on time,” wrote one passenger to the TLC.

    Another wrote: “My 7-year-old left his backpack in the taxi. We thought the bag filled with his homework, coat, and lunchbox was gone. Abdul went off duty and drove around looking for us. He did such an amazing good deed.”

    We also loved to read this: “Exceptional beyond belief. His attitude was so beautiful. Just an exceptional human being. I can’t tell you how happy I was.”

    Other compliments include praise for a taxicab driver who went out of his way to avoid blocking a bike lane in Prospect Heights while dropping off a passenger.  Another licensee returned a family’s passports and cash left in a taxicab before they even noticed they were missing!

    When we receive missives like these, we not only write back to thank the passenger for taking the time to let us know, but we also write to the drivers themselves to let them know how they’ve touched someone’s life.

    Drivers can do their part too, by letting people know that, if they enjoyed your service, they can make a compliment through 311 by calling or using this link to report your outstanding service: http://bit.ly/TLCdrivercompliment.

    That’s all for this month – allow me to close by wishing you and your families all a most joyous and healthy holiday season, and a happy and prosperous New Year!

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