By David Do
I hope you are enjoying spring, a good season for drivers. Trips pick up with the better weather and more tourists, and there’s more money to be made. At TLC, the eternal rhythm has also brought us a birth: Van Hailin’ – our new Mobile Outreach Unit!
Playfully named by a TLC staff vote, Van Hailin’ is a 20-foot Sprinter van where you can do TLC business without having to schlep to Long Island City. It visits a different borough every month, and you can rendezvous with it and conduct select transactions such as settlement offers, drug testing, current status updates, and more. We had our official launch on March 31 at City Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers’ office in Queens, and the turnout was incredible. Van Hailin’ came as a direct result of a survey asking drivers what they would like to see.
You can check in on its schedule here (https://www.nyc.gov/site/tlc/about/mobile-outreach-unit.page).
On April 10, we also launched a major Public Safety Announcement: “Do the New York Twist.” What the heck is that? It’s a lifesaving move that we want everyone to do before exiting their vehicles. Instead of using your hand closest to the door to open it, reach over your body and use your opposite hand to grab the handle. This forces you to look over your shoulder for bicycle traffic to prevent a “dooring.”
Nine NYC cyclists were killed by dooring between 2017-2021, and many more injured. All those tragedies could have been prevented by doing this simple body swivel. We want people to remember to do this move, so we enlisted rock legend Chubby Checker to provide his unforgettable 1961 hit song, “Let’s Twist Again,” to the PSA’s soundtrack.
TLC drivers are the safest in the world and many of you are already hyper-alert for cyclists, and we want our passengers to be as safe as you.
Speaking of the world’s safest drivers, we honored 500 of you at our Vision Zero Honor Roll Ceremony on April 25th. All 500 active drivers went four or more years without crashes involving a fatality or injury, had no traffic violations and no violations of TLC safety-related rules. This was the first in-person Honor Roll ceremony since 2019, and it was heartwarming to see everyone. TLC did remote ceremonies during the pandemic, but it’s not the same. Drivers don’t have the option of working remotely; your work is personal, and it should be celebrated in person.
So, April was busy, but I did manage to get a few trips in. Not as many as I would have liked, but what I’ve learned so far is that being a TLC driver is a completely different reality from being commissioner. In the office, I’m focused on the so-called 30,000-foot view. I’m regulating an entire industry, where interests are often conflicting and almost any decision I make will disappoint someone. Behind the wheel, I head out hungry for trips, and they aren’t easy to get. I’ve only driven yellows so far, but my goal is to drive every kind of TLC licensed vehicle. I do love driving, but this is anything but easy. I hope that what I learn doing this can make it easier for you!
See you out there,
Commissioner, NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission