By New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission
Chairwoman & Cheif Executive Officer
You may have already heard the news, but I recently announced my plans to step down from my role as TLC Commissioner and Chair within the next few months. It has been a privilege to lead the TLC since 2014, as well as to have served as the agency’s General Counsel before that. I am proud of the agency’s achievements during this time.
Some of these important milestones include:
We have removed outdated regulations in the taxi industry that has encouraged new innovation, such as passenger friendly upfront pricing, GPS meters, and car-sharing technology that lets drivers pick up a taxi near them. As well, we have implemented licensing improvements that helps drivers spend more time on the road or with their families rather than waiting at a TLC facility.
More than 2,500 wheelchair accessible taxis are on the road, a new accessibility mandate in the for-hire vehicle sector. Mandated also are Citywide Accessible Dispatch, and increased incentives for wheelchair accessible taxi drivers to $1 per trip.
We added pay protection for ride app drivers, a regulation that has existed in the yellow taxi sector since the nineties, and is the first pay floor in the country. We have worked with the City Council to cap inaccessible for-hire vehicles for one year, while the TLC and DOT study how best to regulate app-based services to reduce congestion going forward. The City Council will study as well the impact of setting minimum passenger fees for these services.
Thanks to a skilled and principled TLC staff, a Commission of members dedicated to doing the right thing, as well as engaged industry members and advocates, through public debate and comprehensive data collection, we increased accountability, safety, access, modernized taxi regulation, protected drivers and increased consumer protections. I am deeply grateful to the TLC community that made this possible.
As gratified as we are about these accomplishments, the eight suicides of our licensees across different industries in 2017 and 2018 overshadow all that we have accomplished and do every day. While the circumstances and factors for each death were different in ways that we will never know, collectively they illustrate the economic despair that drivers are grappling with.
It is essential the City continue this important work addressing industry challenges.
Also, looking forward, it will be the TLC’s continuing role to do more to help drivers access benefits. The TLC will need to formulate a regulatory framework for the app services that effectively addresses the congestion threatening the city’s well being. These initiatives are being pioneered and will be pursued with the same level of scrutiny that has become the TLC’s hallmark.
This month signals the beginning of a new pay standard for high volume FHV drivers, following years of hard work and rigorous analysis, as well as advocacy from driver groups. Beginning on February 1, 2019 all High Volume FHV services (Uber, Lyft, Via, and Gett/Juno) must meet the pay standard approved by the TLC’s Board of Commissioners this past December.
Among its provisions, these high volume bases must provide all drivers with receipts that show their payments and deductions, and drivers who lease their vehicles must receive written agreements in plain language, as well as receipts that show any deductions or charges.
Pay regulation has existed in the taxi industry since the nineties, and establishing it in this mammoth segment of the FHV sector will bring much needed financial stability to almost 80,000 drivers. It will also inject about $600 million a year into the city’s local economy.
If you have any questions about the new driver pay standard or want to use our easy to use calculator to verify how much you will make, please visit nyc.gov/driverpay for a variety of resources. You can also email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also pleased to highlight that, also as of February 1, the maximum taxi credit card surcharge will drop to $7 daily, and $59 weekly. We anticipate this will save full time fleet taxi drivers $1,000 per year.
As gratified as we were to be able to establish pay regulations in the for-hire vehicle sector last year and make important gains in Vision Zero and accessibility, the eight suicides of our licensees across different industries in 2017 and 2018 overshadow all that we do. And while the circumstances and factors for each were different in ways that we will never know, collectively they illustrative the despair that drivers are grappling with.
I want to highlight the important work that our Driver Protection Unit has done to advocate for drivers and connect them with services. I urge you to spread the word to anyone you think might benefit from its services.
The unit investigates complaints from TLC-licensed drivers against other licensees (including fleet agents) for illegal conduct, including identity theft, overcharging on leases or vehicle purchases, or not returning security deposits. It works across all the industry segments we regulate and license. Their efforts have helped drivers recoup more than $3.2 million in restitution.
The Driver Protection Unit also works actively with other City agencies to make resources available to those going through financial hardship, or experiencing other serious challenges in their lives. It has partnered with the Office of Financial Empowerment, providing drivers with access to experts who can help them explore their financial options.
The Driver Protection Unit also works closely with NYC Thrive, a City initiative which provides people with confidential, 24/7 access to staff members who specialize in listening to and helping TLC licensees. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Driver Protection Unit at 718-391-5539, or to email them at email@example.com.
For mental health services, you can reach NYC Thrive directly by calling 1-888-NYC WELL, or texting "WELL" to 65173. You can also chat online with Thrive NYC at nyc.gov/nycwell.
As always, drive like your family lives here!