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Commissioner’s Corner

January 2017

Happy New Year from the TLC!

Taxi Improvement Fund Driver and Owner Programs

  • If you haven’t taken part in our Taxi Improvement Fund, 2017 is a good time to start.  The fund’s programs for drivers and vehicle owners offer lucrative opportunities to earn more money while making our city more accessible to people with disabilities.  The average payment per driver is more than $750 for this year, and almost 1,450 drivers have enrolled in the program.  More than 500 vehicle owners have also received an average payment of more than $16,000 toward the cost of a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, and nearly 900 owners have enrolled.  These programs both improve service and provide new financial opportunities for drivers and owners.

    Caption: There are more than 1200 wheelchair-accessible taxicabs on the road in New York City now.

Making Our City More Equitable

  • And on that note of equity… Last month, the TLC’s commissioners approved the expansion of our Accessible Dispatch Program to make it citywide.  Currently, trips must begin in Manhattan.  A top priority at the TLC has been growing the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles on the road that offer for-hire trips.  There are more than 1200 medallion taxicabs on the road that are now accessible, up from less than 240 in 2013, and that number continues to climb.  Wait times have also fallen to under 12 minutes in our Accessible Dispatch program, while demand for rides continues to grow.  We greatly appreciate the contributions that accessible vehicle owners and drivers make in bringing greater equity to our city.  Thank you for making our place in the city’s transportation network more inclusive to the riding public.

Traffic Safety at Sunset & Shorter Days

  • I would like to thank drivers for being particularly vigilant following Daylight Saving Time in November-- making dusk a safer time for everyone who uses our City’s streets.
During the fall and winter, sunset is earlier in the day when more pedestrians are out, including children, and the lack of light makes it harder to see.  Fall and winter have historically been the deadliest seasons on our streets, and the city continues to needs your help in making this pattern a distant memory.
We appreciate the watchfulness of TLC-licensed drivers in looking out for pedestrians, especially at dusk, and their caution in scanning all crosswalks before making a turn.  Thank you also for slowing down and staying within our 25 mph speed limit-- as we always emphasize, slower speeds save lives.  Let’s keep this attentiveness going forward in the New Year!

Update on Driver Fatigue Rules

  • The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released a study that made it clear that drivers who have too little sleep are comparable to those who have had three or four alcoholic drinks.  The vast majority of our licensees are safe professionals who don’t drive an excessive number of hours, which can lead to dangerous errors on the road. When the TLC’s fatigue-related rules were adopted over the summer, many stakeholders made the case that it would be more accurate to use trip duration to calculate driving hours.  

Based on additional analysis, the TLC is proposing revised rules to combat fatigued driving. The proposed rules will use passenger time – the time when a passenger is in a vehicle on a trip – to calculate the daily and weekly service limits. Because the proposed calculation method is more exact and counts less time than the prior proposal, these limits have been revised to 10 hours of passenger time per day and 60 hours per week. This change provides drivers with a lot more flexibility to schedule their day as they see fit.  The ten hour daily limit strikes the right balance.  Cruising time, app-on time, and time waiting at the airport or at a taxi stand will not be counted towards the total. Only the time  when you have a passenger in the car. 

 The TLC will hold a hearing on January 5 about the revised rules, which are more precise and a stronger tool in achieving Vision Zero.  We will not begin enforcing a revised rule until we have completed significant outreach and provided warnings to that small percentage of drivers who drive over the limits so they have an opportunity to proactively adjust their schedule.  As always, we appreciate your support in preventing crashes, which devastate whole families and communities.

Farewell to Two Great Public Servants

  • Last month, we were sad to say goodbye to two of our treasured commissioners, Edward Gonzalez and Frank Carone.  Although the positions are not paid appointments, the work required for this critical role is significant.  Both Ed and Frank, who joined in 2005 and 2011 respectively, were diligent in making sure the best decisions were made as they approved the soundest rules for the drivers, passengers, and the industries we regulate. 

Commissioner Gonzalez spearheaded the FHV rules overhaul, has championed drivers’ rights (including the first-ever fare increase that went entirely to drivers), and has consistently supported accountability, greater taxi service outside of Manhattan’s Central business district, and accessibility in the industries we regulate.  Commissioner Carone has been a strong advocate for service for all, including street hail livery service and expanding the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles.  These departures are a loss for the city, but we are fortunate for the years you were our colleagues. Thank you for all your contributions to improving for-hire transportation in New York City!

Winterizing Reminder

  • Before I sign off, as I listen to a forecast of the season’s first snow while writing this column, I’d like to just take a moment to remind everyone that, if you haven’t already, it’s time to winterize!  With winter nipping so closely at our heels, the extra-smart thing to do is to have your tires checked, your oil changed with the right viscosity for New York winter temperatures, and to check your coolant ratio (60/40 is good for when the mercury starts to fall).  Make sure you have a well-stocked emergency kit, and don’t forget to check your battery, since it can’t perform as well in the cold.  Last but not least, it’s absolutely imperative to have a good fresh great set of windshield wipers installed and top off your reservoir with plenty of de-icing washer fluid!

Until next time……drive like your family lives here!

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