As more people return to their New York City offices, venues fill up with eager patrons, and the vaccination rate climbs, For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) bases continue to find themselves in a predicament they hadn’t experienced for quite some time: They have more work than they can handle, due in part to an ongoing driver shortage.
To help put people at ease, spur growth and return the city to some semblance of normalcy, government workers are being required to get vaccinated or endure weekly Covid tests and a number of large corporations are flat-out mandating vaccines for their employees. This is helping to breathe life into the local economy and causing a spike in FHV usage, including those for MTA paratransit services.
The MTA’s “On-Demand e-hail” program, which allows 1,200 Access-A-Ride users to electronically book $2.75 Taxi and FHV rides without having to reserve trips a day in advance, has seen a sizable dip in on-time service. Statistics show that requests by New Yorkers with limited mobility had reached nearly 70% of pre-pandemic numbers by late Spring, and that percentage has continued to climb. Unfortunately, so has the number of customer complaints (again, due to the driver shortage).
Taxis are also making a comeback, TLC Chairwoman Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk, told The Sentinel:“We are certainly seeing an increase in demand from passengers and drivers. Taxis make between 15 and 22 trips per shift now. Before Covid, due to market saturation, some shifts only took 11 trips.”
These signs seem to indicate an industry in the process of healing itself. Like a badly broken bone that had to be reset, the healing process does not come without pain, but I’m encouraged by the fact that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will almost assuredly be the city’s next mayor.
Just make sure you vote for Eric Adams in November! He’s an ally to our industry and has promised to give “traditional” FHV bases and Taxi companies a voice in his administration’s transportation policies.
Prior to the election, Matthew Daus hosted a “Transportation Talk” with Mr. Adams to discuss his ideas and positions on certain transportation issues – including those facing the following industries: black car, luxury limousine, private bus operators, non-emergency medical transport, paratransit, yellow cab, leasing and rental companies, scooters, bikeshares and new mobility. During the interview – which can be viewed by clicking here – Mr. Adams made the following key points:
- Municipal car share: Adams said there are too many personal vehicles on New York City’s streets, and his team is exploring the idea of “municipal car sharing,” along with ways traditional taxis, black cars, and liveries can be implemented into such a plan.
- Electric vehicles: Availability of battery charging stations is currently a barrier for the widespread deployment of electric vehicles in NYC. Adams said he plans to dramatically expand the city’s charging infrastructure.
- Taxi vouchers for municipal employees: Adams said he supports a program to provide taxi vouchers to municipal employees, rather than having them use their own personal vehicles.
- Ridesharing and the gig economy: The proliferation of ridesharing and the gig-worker economy has led to numerous problems for New York – including a spike in “wandering vehicles” that add to congestion and the decimation of the taxi industry. Adams said he welcomes “industry insiders” to help lead the conversation about a transportation paradigm shift.
- Livery Industry: Adams said NYC must take care, not only of TLC-regulated drivers, but also base owners. Everyone working should be able to earn enough to provide for their families, he added.
- Medallion Bailout: Adams supports a medallion bailout, and said NYC did a disservice to the yellow cab industry and must be held responsible. He also wants to help drivers who are not medallion owners.
Soon enough, Summer will be over – and although there’s no way of knowing what Autumn will bring, there are reasons to feel optimistic. I’m hoping more drivers take this opportunity to return to a traditional base to pick up work and again encourage everyone to make sure they get out and vote for Eric Adams.