Industry attorney, Steven J. Shanker, Esq., along with partners Doug Ver Mulm and Aparna Srinivasan, have created a GoFundMe campaign to help support For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) drivers as COVID-19 causes historic problems for an already-struggling industry.
According to Shanker, Executive Director of the Livery Roundtable, “Gov. Cuomo determined FHV services are an essential business, while the rest of New York City is on-pause. To perform this work, FHV drivers put themselves and their families at risk of contracting COVID-19 – so we are trying to raise money to help them as they continue to support their communities in this time of need.”
Shanker says he is currently accepting applications from drivers and hopes to raise funds to help them cover their major expenses. He says the group’s goal is to raise a minimum of $30,000, which would provide stipends for about 100 FHV drivers. If they exceed that goal, they will use those funds to cover additional drivers.
To donate to struggling FHV drivers and assist the group in their efforts, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-new-york-city-rideshare-drivers.
“This terrible situation has really been a gut-check for the drivers in our industry,” says Shanker. “A lot of drivers left traditional Livery and Black Car bases to work for Uber and Lyft in recent years, but in their time of need, they are realizing nobody from those giant companies is looking out for them. At the traditional bases, you’re working with people from your own community. If you have a problem, there are people you can talk to and get advice from. Everyone knows each other, they communicate, they share common problems and goals.”
Shanker, who has long been critical of companies like Uber and Lyft, adds: “What are these giant app companies doing for their affiliated drivers? There’s no dedicated line to call for help or to get answers to questions you might have. You basically just get an email address as your primary form of contact. Otherwise, you’re on your own. Sometimes it just helps to hear the sound of someone’s voice – someone who cares, who understands what you’re going through.”
Shanker’s partners in the project are Ver Mulm and Srinivasan. Doug Ver Mulm is the CEO of Stable Insurance, a new digital insurance broker for the FHV industry. Aparna Srinivasan is the CEO of SpotOn, a new service that specializes in providing rides for passengers and their pets.
“If we all do what we can to help one another, we will weather this storm together,” says Shanker. “When we eventually get through this and work to rebuild the FHV industry, I am hopeful that NYC FHV drivers will consider who was there for them when they were in need of aid and support. Was it your base, your insurance carrier, your friend, a family member?”
For more information, contact Steven Shanker at (212) 461-2244 or [email protected]