New Role at TLC
Hello, my name is Bill Heinzen, and I began serving as the Acting Commissioner of the TLC in March. I’ve gotten to know many industry members and advocates since I joined the agency in 2015. As Deputy Commissioner for Policy and External Affairs, I worked on the TLC’s major initiatives, including driver income pay protection and wheelchair accessibility in the for-hire vehicle sector. I was also fortunate to oversee our Driver Education Unit, which worked hard to improve the quality of training drivers receive, as well as our External Affairs Unit, which does extensive outreach to more than 200,000 drivers.
Under Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, I look forward to working closely with the industry and fellow regulators, building on the work that supports and protects hardworking drivers – with driver well-being always at the center of our work in the year ahead.
Drivers and Mental Health
The TLC was devastated to learn of the loss of professional driver Mr. Lu Tuan Wu on March 23 in Queens. Mr. Wu had been a TLC-licensee since 2014, and his vehicle was affiliated to a black car base. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and his brother and sister drivers.
The TLC has been doing daily outreach to drivers to share mental health and financial resources, including visiting bases, faith centers and driver groups. Many of our employees have also received Mental Health First Aid training to help others in distress, whenever possible. If you are struggling, or know someone who is, please call 1-888-NYC-WELL, or text WELL to 65173. There is always someone ready to help around the clock, each day.
For-hire transportation is safe and easy in NYC
Like many others, we were greatly disturbed by the murder of a South Carolina college student, Samantha Josephson, after she went into a car she thought was an Uber in March. There is an important conversation going on now about passenger safety and for-hire vehicle service across the United States.
In New York City, we are grateful that the large number of professional drivers, as well as the greater industry, make it easy to find a safe ride. Please help us spread the word with your friends, family, and community that all TLC-licensed drivers are carefully vetted, including fingerprinting and drug testing.
Taxis, the only vehicles allowed to pick up street-hailing passengers, are easy to identify by their color, “T” markings, and the medallion license number on the roof and sides of the vehicles. And it’s easy for a rider to find the black car or livery car they ordered – if using an app, they can check the plate to make sure they enter the right car. If they call a car service, they can ask for the plate of the car it will be sent to them.
Your professionalism and care on the road represents a larger industry that has been carefully regulated in New York City for decades, with significant consumer protections. When a rider takes a trip in a TLC-licensed service, they can feel at ease, knowing there are countless public safety benefits to taking a licensed taxi or for-hire vehicle.
I’m excited to continue working with the stakeholders and look forward to meeting more of you.