New York’s City Council, together with a transportation consultant Charles Komanoff, are considering introducing legislation to accomplish what the city has been unable to do so far: discourage “cruising” for rides by High-Volume For-Hire Vehicle (HVFHV) drivers in Manhattan’s central business district. Sources say Komanoff has been working on a study for Speaker Corey Johnson to outline how best to regulate “trawling” – the practice of cruising empty below 96th Street in Manhattan waiting for a fare, which is believed to add substantially to congestion.

Over a year ago, Komanoff, a longtime advocate for congestion pricing, suggested ways to cut congestion to city council, including “time-based surcharges” on HVFHV rides within the central business district and on cruising. According to his testimony, Komanoff would deploy tech to track the whereabouts of HVFHVs and whether they are carrying passengers, so fees can be imposed. Currently, the city relies on app-based operators to self-report their vehicles’ routes, which presents some difficulties as the drivers switch between apps.

Last month, state Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank threw out the cap on cruising rates imposed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), which were set to go into effect in February. The TLC tried to reduce the amount of time HVFHV drivers spend without passengers in the central business district to 36%, down from the 41% rate they had in 2018. After six months, the rate would have been further reduced to 31%. Judge Frank called the cap “arbitrary and capricious.”

“These 85,000 [FHVs] create significant environmental problems, as well as make it a headache for New Yorkers to get around the city,” acting commissioner Bill Heinzen responded. “We put these rules in place to protect hardworking drivers and New Yorkers – and we’ll fight to keep them.”

Source:Crain’s New York Business

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