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      COMMISSIONER'S CORNER


By New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission
Chairwoman & Cheif Executive Officer
Meera Joshi

   

 

Recent changes in medallion rules

Tragedy in the Driver Community

In May, we were greatly saddened to learn that taxi owner/driver Yu Mein "Kenny" Chow decided to end his life. We shared our deepest condolences with family members, friends, and the fellow drivers he leaves behind. While the reasons for suicide are complex and cannot be explained in generalities, the mounting financial pressures medallion owners are facing is real and devastating.

We urge all industry members who are feeling these hardships to reach out to Driver Protection Unit at 212-676-1201 for assistance in finding financial counseling. Neighborhood Trust, based in upper Manhattan, has been working with TLC licensees to financially empower themselves through counseling and other support services.

If you are experiencing stress, depression, or anxiety, we urge you not to cope with it alone. Please call 1-888-NYC-Well or text "Well" for free, confidential mental health support in more than 200 languages.

If you would like to support the family of Kenny Chow, you can donate to their fund here:
www.gofundme.com/remembering-nyc-cabbie-kenny-chow

To support the family of taxi driver Nicanor Ochisor, who also took his life earlier this year, donations can be made here: www.gofundme.com/fundforOchisorfamily


An Iftar with Friends

It was a great privilege to take part in an Iftar with the Muslim driver community in June. For those unfamiliar with the tradition of Iftar, it is the evening meal with which Muslims end the daily Ramadan fast at sunset. It is often taken as a community with people gathering to break the fast together.

The TLC attended the Iftar at a new driver education school, Taxiland, on Van Dam Street in Long Island City, Queens. We were warmly welcomed by representatives of the bases Grand Limo & Car Service and Grand Transportation Services (Ryde NYC).

These are two of the most active bases for wheelchair-accessible green taxis in New York City, and many provide trips for the Accessible Dispatch program. We are grateful for the invitation to enjoy Iftar with the driver community, and we wish our licensees a blessed Ramadan.

The TLC enjoyed taking part in an Iftar with the Muslim driver community.


Softball Game

In July, I enjoyed spending time with some of our city's longtime car services with a game of softball in Inwood Park. I pitched at the inauguration of Riverside Car & Limo Service's 19th annual league tournament. Thank you to all who took part that morning. We appreciate the important contributions that car services make to our city's transportation network moving so many people every day.



TLC In Your Borough!

The TLC's Kiara Ampuero, Rebecca Ditchek, and Gabriel Hidalgo enjoyed speaking with Dae Kang and Kay Kim of Orange Ride Corp. at a TLC in Your Borough event in Flushing, Queens.

Some of the most common questions the TLC receives from drivers are about prosecution and enforcement. To give information directly to our licensees, the TLC has been organizing events in all the boroughs with presentations from our External Affairs, Enforcement, and Prosecution teams.

Following the presentations, there is time for drivers to ask questions from some of the highest levels of leadership in the TLC. The TLC recently held TLC in Your Borough events in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, and in Flushing, Queens. We are appreciative of the great turnout, and the valuable time that drivers took to ask questions and learn more. We look forward to seeing you at the next one!

The TLC's Kiara Ampuero, Rebecca Ditchek, and Gabriel Hidalgo enjoyed speaking with Dae Kang and Kay Kim of Orange Ride Corp. at a TLC in Your Borough event in Flushing, Queens.


Cabbie to the rescue

A hero taxi driver helped catch a Manhattan bank robber in July. The suspect stole $500 after passing a bank teller a note, according to police, and then hailed a cab. The police contacted the driver, Mr. Thierno Diakhate, after getting in touch with his garage, who met them and then took them to where he had dropped the suspect.

"We saw her try to get into another cab," Mr. Diakhate told the New York Post. Police made an arrest, and charged the alleged perpetrator with robbery.

TLC-licensed drivers like Mr. Diakhate are the eyes and ears of our city, and often do a great deal, quietly and behind the scenes, to keep New Yorkers safe. "I followed the slogan if you see something, say something," he said.

We look forward to honoring Mr. Diakhate at our Aug. 2 Commission Meeting, and recognizing his achievements. When he is not helping the police catch suspected bank robbers, Mr. Diakhate is a senior at Brooklyn College where he studies accounting.


Disability Pride Parade

Many TLC staff members and their families marched in the Disability Pride Parade last month. The theme was Express Yourself. We enjoyed the creativity of those who took part.

The parade travels between Madison Square Park and Union Square Park. This year, we celebrated the increasing number of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs in New York City which has risen to about 2,400, as well as our now citywide Accessible Dispatch Program.

The TLC also increased the amount that taxi drivers receive for trips in wheelchair-accessible vehicles, from $.50 to $1, in addition to the metered fare.

As part of the for-hire vehicle rules that the TLC approved last year, as well as a recent legal settlement, we anticipate a long overdue increase in the number of wheelchair-accessible black and livery cars. We are appreciative of the work drivers, and those who work in the industries we regulate, do to make our city a more accessible place for all.



Driver Earnings in the For-Hire Vehicle Sector

Last month, two economists released a study contracted by the TLC from the New School's Center for New York City Affairs. The economists analyzed the current earnings of drivers in the for-hire vehicle sector. It drew upon the most extensive data ride app companies ever provided to academic scholars, including rides, fares, driver pay, and hours.

Using this data, the economists found that driver pay is low in the for-hire vehicle sector due to a large pool of available drivers that reduce the number of trips per hour and driver pay. About 85% of ride app drivers currently earn less than the equivalent of the fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage. They would need a 22% increase to earn more than an additional $6,000 per year to meet it.

The TLC is working with the City Council and the industries we regulate to address the economic challenges of drivers. We greatly appreciate the feedback from drivers and other licensees on the report.

Until next time, drive like your family lives here!

 

 

 

 

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