At a time when optimism is a rare commodity, New York City’s new Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) Chair and Commissioner, David Do, has many hopeful that he’ll take the wheel and begin steering the industry in a much better direction. Do, who was nominated by Mayor Adams in mid-April and approved by City Council on May 19, said his top priorities are helping TLC-regulated drivers and the industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and turning the tide on the taxi medallion debt crisis plaguing drivers. He also expressed a willingness to engage with industry leaders to work through ongoing issues, like the driver shortage devastating many traditional for-hire vehicle (FHV) bases.
“David Do has the experience and expertise to guide TLC into the future, while ensuring drivers and operators have the support they need to move our industry and our recovery forward,” said Ira Goldstein, executive director of the New York Black Car Fund and Black Car Assistance Corp. “The Black Car Fund looks forward to working with David to create safer streets, a better transportation network, and conditions that allow drivers and the for-hire vehicle industry to thrive.”
Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, agrees that Do seems to be on the right track: “David Do [is] an experienced regulator rooted in transportation policy and thoughtful about the need to stabilize and rebuild our city’s iconic taxi and for-hire-vehicle industry post-pandemic and after years of turmoil. [He] has been a life-long public servant… [with] a record of working to uplift working conditions for drivers.”
Do replaces Acting TLC Commissioner Ryan Wanttaja, who took the reins of the agency after former TLC Chair Aloysee Heredia-Jarmoszuk resigned in March.
Do previously served as Director of Washington D.C.’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV) and Chair of the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR) Technology & Innovation Committee. His response to COVID-19 helped ensure driver safety and earned him accolades from the industry he oversaw. Do also previously served as director of the Washington, DC Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, where he led a team to improve the quality of life for thousands of DC Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). In 2019, he received the Catalyst Award from the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Association, a federation of AAPI LGBTQ+ groups.
“I want to thank Mayor Adams for putting his trust in me to lead the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission at this pivotal point in the history of our industry,” said Do. “Increased competition and the global pandemic have put our industry at a crossroads, and I look forward to partnering with Mayor Adams to deliver a strong economic recovery for our yellow and green taxi, livery, and for-hire industries.”
“I am so proud to welcome a groundbreaking and supremely qualified and capable nominee like David Do to the TLC,” Mayor Adams responded. “After a financial crisis and a devastating pandemic, a strong taxi industry is a prerequisite to a just and equitable economic recovery for our city, and this administration is going to deliver that for New Yorkers.”
“David Do clearly has what it takes,” said Meera Joshi, a former TLC chair and current Deputy Mayor for Operations. “His depth of industry experience, collaborative perspective, and data-driven approach will bring innovation, accessibility, and equity to drivers and riders alike.”
“I am thrilled that Mayor Eric Adams has named David Do – a fine public servant and colleague, to be the next TLC Chair and Commissioner,” said Matthew W. Daus, Esq., Chair of the Windels Marx Transportation Practice Group, and formerly the longest-serving TLC Chair.
“For me it’s: How does he move this industry forward? How do we support the drivers and also ensure that New Yorkers have access to safe, quality, affordable and interconnected transportation? That’s what it really comes down to,” Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers, chairwoman of the transportation and infrastructure committee told Crain’s New York Business recently.
“We look forward to working with Commissioner Do to continue to improve conditions and pay fairness for the… drivers who keep our city moving,” said Brendan Sexton, Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild. “Record gas prices and other expenses combined with exorbitant fees from the app companies are making it difficult for the city’s for-hire vehicle drivers to make ends meet. We met with Mr. Do during the confirmation process and believe he will bring needed leadership and a fresh perspective to the TLC, while looking out for the well-being of all drivers of our industry.”
Although it is too early to tell if Do will be able to apply what he learned running D.C.’s DFHV to help stabilize NYC’s struggling industry, I share the optimism of the majority of our industry’s leaders, and hope to meet Mr. Do in the near future. His career up to this point is surely an inspirational one.