By Brendan Sexton
In November, New York’s City Council held a hearing on livery vehicles and black cars – and the biggest complaints were about the city’s flawed vehicle cap. NYC’s vehicle cap is hurting drivers and small business owners across the For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) industry. For almost two years, we have been warning the city that the vehicle cap is a bad long-term policy, and we are glad that livery and black car drivers are speaking out as well.
Renting a TLC vehicle costs thousands of dollars more per year than it costs to license and finance your own vehicle. The vehicle cap is forcing thousands of low-income drivers to pay more for their vehicles. Overpaying for your vehicle by thousands of dollars per year makes it that much harder for drivers to make a living. It also means drivers have to work more hours to survive, adding to the vehicle hours on the streets and the congestion the city is so concerned about.
When thousands of drivers have to work longer hours and drive more trips to make a living, that leaves fewer trips for the drivers who own their vehicles, too. The cap makes it harder for all TLC drivers to make a living: black car, livery, app-based, yellow cab and green taxis.
The only ones who seem to be benefitting from the city’s vehicle cap are the big fleet owners and predatory leasing companies. Why is New York City making drivers pay leasing companies, and in so doing, hurting thousands of low-income driver families, as well as small mom-and-pop car services who depend on these workers?
The taxi industry has backed a bill to cap the cost of vehicle leases but there are problems with that proposal. First, the proposal fails to address the core issue: that drivers should be able to license their own vehicle. Secondly, as written, the law punishes drivers if their lease is too expensive, instead of punishing leasing companies. The bill says that if a driver signs a lease that is over the cap price they cannot drive the vehicle, but by then the driver has already signed the lease and is stuck in an unusable lease. The bill fails to direct the Taxi and Limousine Commission to exercise enforcement authority over the leasing companies and hold them accountable for their practices.
One way for FHV drivers to make some extra money is through roof top advertising. But the Taxi and Limousine Commission is blocking that too for all FHVs. The New York City Council Transportation Committee Chair, Ydanis Rodriguez has a bill to fix that, that would let all FHV drivers make money off rooftop ads.
If you support the right for drivers to make as much as $300 per month without spending more time on the streets and taking more trips from other drivers, then sign our petition at: https://bit.ly/2KFsWLK.
One final note: If you have not received your flu shot yet, we urge you to take advantage of the free shots at any Rite Aid for Black Car and app-based drivers. The free shots are only available through the month of December. The last thing drivers need is to be out of work for a week with the flu. Protect yourself and take advantage of the benefits you earned.
Activate your benefits and get your voucher for a free flu shot at https://driversbenefits.org/flu/.