Mayor Eric Adams, who officially took office on January 1, has re-nominated current NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) Chair, Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk to continue on in her position and announced the appointment of City Council Committee of Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez to serve as the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner. These choices will a have tremendous influence on the City’s for-hire industry.
While many like to complain about politicians and political appointees (myself included), the truth of the matter is:
- That’s how our democratic system works. How else are you going to run a government? Someone needs to lead.
- It’s always easy to comment from “the bleachers” to do X instead of Y or Y instead of X, but the difficulty in finding political consensus and effectively executing policy shouldn’t be underestimated. That doesn’t mean we should give a free pass to those in power on subjects we feel strongly about – it seems to me that polite, yet effective communication is something many in the TLC community struggle with. I also understand that legitimate frustrations can get the best of people (including myself) as well, but hostile interactions between TLC drivers and other industry participants and the regulator does no one any good.
- Complicated policy issues are often over-simplified, giving a false impression of political favoritism or corruption. It’s important to really understand issues before making accusations of malfeasance.
NYC TLC Chair/Commissioner Aloysee Chair Heredia Jarmoszuk should be given credit for managing A LOT since taking over her current role on the eve of a once in a century pandemic that hit NYC hard, early on. From my interactions and observations, Chair Heredia Jarmoszuk understands the for-hire industry well and is willing to engage various industry participants. I’m sure she has a lot on her agenda that I won’t be able to fully capture here, but I’ll make some educated, high-level observations.
It’s clear electrifying the TLC fleet, starting with the yellow cab industry, is a priority. She will also oversee a yellow cab industry coming out of a historic debt restructuring agreement, which many think will lead to a yellow cab renaissance. Finally, she will continue to lead strategic thinking and decision making around the FHV License Pause (aka TLC Plate Cap), as it establishes itself as an industry norm. Of specific note is the “traditional” Black Car industry’s request for an exemption to the TLC Plate Cap, citing disruption to their ability to add new clientele. There will be other important issues that come up so forgive me for not including them all here, but I will be tracking and reporting on them in the months and years ahead.
As a side note, the Black Car News mentioned recently that there was a City Council bill that proposes to increase the size of the TLC Commission from 9 to 11. This is something I’ll track as well, but I’m currently lacking details.
DOT’s Influence on the NYC For-Hire Industry
Another policy topic that’s highly relevant to the NYC for-hire transportation industry is the upcoming implementation of the long-awaited NYC congestion pricing regime. Questions on how FHVs will be charged, what will (if any) the exemptions be, etc – this will be a MAJOR topic and inflection point, not only for NYC’s for-hire industry, but its overall transportation ecosystem. A key goal of congestion pricing is to reduce private cars coming into Manhattan’s Central Business District (CBD), which on its face will likely benefit the for-hire industry (i.e., less private car transport in the City).
A key player in the congestion pricing discussions will be Ydanis Rodriguez, the incoming City’s DOT Commissioner, who will help shape its impact on the TLC industry. Back in 2019, Rodriguez, in his capacity as Chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, supported a yellow taxi exemption from a previously proposed NYC for-hire vehicle congestion surcharge (although that surcharge was ultimately implemented).
Another big agenda item for incoming Commissioner Rodriguez will be a continuation of the de Blasio administration’s focus on Vision Zero and expanding protected bike lanes across the City, something Mayor Adams has repeatedly advocated for. Some TLC drivers see the expansion of protected bike (and bus) lanes as troublesome, saying the new lanes eat into the “street space” available to them – but it appears to be an undeniable fact of life at the moment.
“I will work with the rest of my colleagues in the administration, the City Council, advocates, and the private and academic sectors, to carry on our vision of turning New York City into the most pedestrian and cyclist-friendly city in the nation,” Rodriguez recently stated. “I will continue looking for innovative ways to reduce our reliance on carbon-emitting vehicles and in its place build a City that prioritizes sustainability and the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. We are going to commit to replacing 50% of all plastic protected bike lanes with sturdier and more permanent structures within the first 100 days.”
Additionally, the DOT currently has jurisdiction over the granting of self-driving permits (aka autonomous vehicle (AV) licenses) issued in the City – something that is likely to gain more attention.