Hello to all! June was a momentous month as New York reached its 70% vaccination milestone and subsequently, all remaining COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. The city has sprung to life and the demand for FHV services is continuing to increase. The TLC even announced that shared and pooled rides can resume as of June 24th. Remember though, the federal mask mandate has not been lifted so drivers and passengers are still required to wear masks during rides!

June was certainly a busy month for the TLC. When they initially announced a public hearing regarding the removal of the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) exemption for new FHV licenses, it was obvious to most that it was going to happen. It was no surprise that they voted in favor of removing the exemption at the public hearing on June 22nd.

The TLC reiterated their reasoning for the vote, saying that they expect an influx of BEV applications now that these cars have become more affordable and available. The TLC will now have to consider issues surrounding BEVs when determining how many FHV licenses to issue every six months. As you know, in February that number continued to be zero, and the next review is set to be published in August.

This was big news for the black car industry but the biggest news from June is still yet to be determined: who won the Democratic primary election for Mayor? While the TLC was focused on removing the BEV exemption, the rest of the city had their eyes set on the election. At the end of the night, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams had the lead with nearly 32% of first choice votes. Due to ranked-choice voting, the winner will likely not be known for weeks, as the Board of Elections needs to count absentee ballots, as well as the 2nd through 5th choice votes.

For what it’s worth, in other places that use ranked-choice voting, the person who leads after the 1st round has ended up winning over 90% of the time. While it’s certainly not over yet, I think it’s safe to say Eric Adams will go on to become the Democratic nominee and ultimately, our next Mayor. I certainly look forward to having an ally of the black car industry running our city, rather than de Blasio who has proven to be the opposite.

This month, I also want to talk about a relatively new benefit that The Black Car Fund started offering its Covered Drivers. As you may know, back in January, we launched a new suite of health-related benefits for our Covered Drivers and one of them is dental insurance. Trust me when I say that I have never seen such a comprehensive dental plan and I cannot urge you enough to take advantage of it.

First off, there are no costs or copayments for dental exams, x-rays and cleanings. This is great but the discounts on dental work are truly amazing. For example, a crown costs just $50 when the normal out-of-pocket cost ranges between $800 to $3,000! Click here to see a full list of the services available, as well as additional information on other benefits such as vision, telemedicine, and urgent care and diagnostic imaging discounts. You can access all of these benefits by visiting ny.driversbenefits.org and clicking sign up in the top right corner.

On a final note, our S.A.F.E. iD program is continuing to grow and I’m happy to let you know that the dual-sided dashboard cameras from Nexar are once again available for free to our Covered Drivers who opt-in for S.A.F.E. iD. You all know how important dashboard cameras can be for your own safety and protection, so don’t wait because it’s only a matter of time until all of the available cameras are claimed. We also have dashboard cameras available through our partnership with Vuro. To opt-in, visit www.nybcf.org/safeid and click on “opt-in here” at the bottom of the page!

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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