Hello to all! I hope everyone is enjoying the fall weather that has pleasantly embraced us. After a crazy September, I think most New Yorkers would say they’re happy to get closer to the end of hurricane season.

September started off with rain of truly historic proportions. Back on August 21st, Hurricane Henri broke a rainfall record with 1.94 inches of rain falling in one hour in Central Park, between 10-11pm. That record, the most rain in a single hour at that location since record keeping began in the 19th century, lasted less than two weeks. The remnants of Hurricane Ida, which took the whole City by surprise, dropped 3.15 inches of rain in one hour in that same location. Overall, communities throughout New York and New Jersey saw as much as 6 to 10 inches of rain in just a few hours that night.

The damage was absolutely devastating and it will be some time before we can truly put a dollar figure on it. The MTA alone believes the damage to the transit system could carry a price tag of $100 million or more.

Thousands of people’s homes were flooded, possessions destroyed, and vehicles totaled from water damage. President Biden declared Queens County and other area counties as Major Disaster Areas, which freed up Federal funds and other resources. To learn more about this and apply for federal assistance, please click here. On the City level, you can also file a claim with the Comptroller’s office for water damage by clicking here.

On another note, our battle with COVID-19 and the delta variant continues. Over the past month, the numbers have been on a slight decrease, but we’re not out of the woods yet. The vaccine is our best weapon against the virus and this past month, NYC announced that people 65 and older, or those with underlying medical conditions, are eligible for a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine. To learn more about eligibility and to find a vaccine site near you, click here.

The most important topic I want to talk about this month is the upcoming Mayoral election. As you know, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is the Democratic Nominee for Mayor and the black car industry has strongly supported him throughout his campaign because we believe that he is undoubtedly the best choice to lead us. He has always been a strong supporter of small businesses and understands the critical role they play in our city’s economy. He will push forward smart policies and a better government that delivers for all New Yorkers. As a 20-year veteran of the NYPD, he also understands the importance of public safety and knows that more must be done to reel in the spike in crime our city has recently seen. It seems like not a day goes by without another story of a driver being assaulted or robbed.

Just as importantly, he also agrees that trade groups like the Black Car Assistance Corporation, as well as other industry stakeholders, need to be more involved by the next administration in the discussions and decisions that affect us. He could make this happen by supporting industry representation on the TLC’s board, as well as supporting City Council legislation that would allow traditional black car bases to have modest increases in their affiliated vehicle counts. This is truly critical, as we need to support the interests of small businesses so that our voice is not overpowered by those of mass transportation advocates.

While it’s unlikely that the Republican candidate will win the election in such an overwhelmingly blue city like New York, that doesn’t change the fact that anything can happen on election day. That’s why it’s so important to get out and vote! Don’t take anything for granted and make sure that your voice is heard by exercising your right to vote. Click here to find your poll site so that you’re prepared to vote on Tuesday, November 2nd.

On a final note, I would like to refresh everyone’s memories on all the health and wellness benefits that are available to black car drivers through The Black Car Fund. As you know, New York is the only state in the country where black car drivers, the vast majority of who are independent contractors, are eligible for Workers’ Compensation in the event that they are in an accident on the job. The Black Car Fund covers well over 100,000 throughout New York, with not just Workers’ Compensation insurance, but also a full suite of additional health and wellness benefits that they wouldn’t be eligible for anywhere else!

From telemedicine for the whole family, vision coverage and dental insurance, to prescription, urgent care and diagnostic imaging discounts, and the mental health and wellness program, there are numerous benefits that you could be taking advantage of today, for FREE. If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to click here and sign up for Drivers Benefits so that you can begin using these benefits today.

Also, throughout the month of October, our Vision Van will be conveniently located at LaGuardia Airport in the For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) lot, Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. If you have some time between trips, stop by at any time to get your free annual eye exam and glasses, on the spot!

Until next time!

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Article by Ira Goldstein

Ira Goldstein is Executive Director of the New York Black Car Fund, Chief Operating Officer of the Black Car Assistance Corporation and Treasurer of the Coalition of Transportation Associations.

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