Hello to all. I hope that you have been coping with the winter weather and using all those helpful inclement weather driving techniques that you learned in the Black Car Safety Center. As always, it has been a very hectic month since my last column. I will get right into it.
First, an update on congestion pricing. On January 31st, the judge lifted the temporary restraining order (TRO) and the Cuomo Administration worked with the BCAC and other companies to complete an orderly implementation upon the lifting of the TRO. While the TRO has been lifted, the case was not dismissed and is scheduled for a hearing in mid-March. As previously reported, the Black Car industry intervened in the case brought by the Taxicab industry and will be represented at that hearing. We will report any status updates.
Governor Cuomo also appears to be gaining support for the next phase of his congestion pricing plan, where all vehicles will pay a fee to enter the central business district. We will continue to monitor the situation and everything possible to ensure that the Black Car industry is treated fairly in comparison to the other transportation industries.
What would my column be without a few more lawsuits to report on?
Uber filed a lawsuit to kill the current cap on the number of For-Hire Vehicles that can be put on the road. In its lawsuit, filed in a New York state court, Uber argues that the one-year freeze on ride-hail vehicle licenses is anticompetitive and exceeds the city’s authority. It also argues that there are better policies for fighting traffic, tools that don’t specifically target ride-hail companies.
Lyft and Juno teamed up to file a lawsuit against the City of New York and the TLC seeking to block implementation of new TLC rules that created a first of its kind minimum pay rules for High Volume For-Hire Vehicle drivers. While the Court scheduled a hearing for mid-March, Lyft and Juno have to put the difference in pay that the drivers would have received in escrow pending the Court’s final decision. Lyft and Juno alleged that these minimum pay rules gave an unfair advantage to Uber. Lyft and Juno received a rash of negative publicity for commencing this lawsuit, particularly when Uber declined to join the lawsuit. Ironically, reaction by drivers was swift and strong and made Uber the “good guys”.
Anyone that follows our industry knows that Commissioner Joshi, who will be leaving the TLC probably sometime in mid-March, had a contentious relationship with Chairman Reuben Diaz Sr., now former Chair of the defunct FHV Committee of the City Council. When Commissioner Joshi announced that she was leaving the TLC, we can only imagine that Councilman Diaz secretly felt some joy. However, Diaz Sr., who has been known to make some statements that could be interpreted as homophobic, angered Speaker Corey Johnson and his other council members with his latest slur. As fast as the FHV Committee was created for Diaz Sr., the Committee was dissolved by the City Council. From a Black Car industry perspective, it is no loss as Diaz Sr. had no respect or understanding of our industry.
Finally, Governor Cuomo has dropped – for now, his proposal to completely ban stretch limousines statewide made in the wake of the upstate October crash that killed 20 people. Kudos to the Limousine, Bus, Taxi Operators of Upstate New York for their determined advocacy in getting the Governor to remove the total ban from his budget.
Until next time!