I was thankful (and pleasantly stunned, actually) to hear that City Council is finally stepping up to try and fix the mess that has become of the NYC For-hire Vehicle (FHV) and Taxi industry (Source: New York Times). A legislative package before City Council includes what could be a first step toward capping the number of vehicles driving for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), and could halt the issuance of new FHV licenses, except for vehicles that are wheelchair accessible, while the city conducts a year-long study of the industry.

The package also seeks to change the way TNCs operate, potentially licensing companies that provide more than 10,000 daily trips as “high-volume transportation services” and creating separate regulations for them. City officials could also set standards for how often a vehicle must be occupied by a passenger, to reduce the time spent driving around the city while empty and looks to set minimum pay rules for TNC drivers. This would make NYC the first major American city to set limits on TNCs and establish a pay minimum for drivers.

City Council could vote on the measures as soon as Aug. 8.

The new legislation package – supported by City Council speaker, Corey Johnson – comes as concerns continue to mount over the explosive growth of TNCs, which has led to worsening congestion and battered driver wages. As of July 27, Mayor Bill de Blasio had not yet fully endorsed the proposed legislation, but he has suggested that the time has come to “rein in the industry.”

De Blasio’s first attempt, in 2015, was a failure. Since then, the number of FHVs in NYC has surged, rising to more than 100,000 vehicles, from about 63,000 in 2015, according to the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).

A number of elected officials have raised concerns about the decimation of a once-thriving industry and the increasing gridlock on city streets. Tragically, it took six NYC TLC-regulated driver suicides to finally initiate the first steps towards what I am hoping will be some meaningful changes.

Not surprisingly, Uber has spoken out against the proposal to cap FHVs, arguing that it would hurt its customers, especially those who live in the boroughs outside Manhattan. Uber says customers in neighborhoods ill-served by public transit is a big part of what helped fuel their extraordinary growth in NYC. Uber officials have signaled a willingness to discuss new regulations but have adamantly opposed a cap.

Mr. Johnson’s office said that it hoped the proposals would push companies to add more wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Stay tuned for more on this topic, and other breaking news! We urge you to visit www.blackcarnews.comand “like” our page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Black-Car-News-423894445595/?ref=bookmarks.

Editor’s Note:We would like to apologize for including an outdated list of relief stands in our July issue (page 52), and we would like to thank Frank McDonald, VP Operations for Ben’s Luxury Car & Limousine Service for bringing this error to our attention. Mr. McDonald also directed us to the most updated list available from the Department of Transportation, which can be found on page 21 of this issue – or you can visit: www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/taxirelief.shtml.

Article by Neil Weiss

Neil Weiss is the Editor/Publisher/Owner of Black Car News and Livery Times. He has been involved in the ground transportation industry since 1991, writing thousands of articles on a wide variety of subjects.

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