Hello to all! July has been hot and rainy, the typical New York summer. I hope everyone has been able to enjoy the warm weather. It’s clear that New York City is truly coming back to life. Everything is open again, people are going out and more and more people are returning to work at the office. As a driver, I’m sure you’d agree with me that traffic feels as bad as it ever was.

In fact, the relentless congestion in the city has led to renewed calls to speed up the implementation of the MTA’s congestion pricing plan. As you may know, four months ago the MTA received guidance from the Biden Administration requiring an environmental assessment to be completed. This has not happened yet. The MTA is also required to speak with New Jersey and Connecticut officials before launching the program, but the MTA has still not met with New Jersey, and has had only one meeting with Connecticut.

In mid-July, de Blasio called out Governor Cuomo for dragging his feet on congestion pricing and urged the MTA to set a July 2022 goal on the plan. This seems highly unlikely, but it’s something we will certainly be monitoring closely.

As the demand for FHV trips continues to increase by the day, the number of drivers on the road just can’t keep up. We’ve heard from drivers that they are hesitant to return to work because of the fear of losing their unemployment benefits. What many don’t know, however, is that New York law allows for some part-time work while collecting benefits. This past January, the New York State Department of Labor implemented a new partial unemployment system that uses an “hours-based” approach. Depending on the number of hours you work, unemployment benefits will simply be reduced from 0 to 75% on a sliding scale.

On one end of the scale, if a person works 4 or fewer hours a week, the State counts that as 0 days worked and there is no reduction in their weekly benefit rate. On the other end, if a person works 31 or more hours a week, that person gets 0% of his weekly benefit rate. In between, if a person works 5-10 hours a week, the State counts that as 1-day work and the person gets 75% of their weekly benefit rate. If a person works 11-20 hours a week, the State counts that as 2 days worked and the person gets 50% of their weekly benefit rate. Finally, if a person works 21-30 hours a week, the State counts that as 3 days worked and they will receive 25% of their weekly benefit rate. Just remember that the time is rounded up to the nearest hour when you report it.

Moving on to the biggest news of the month, it looks like Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will become the next Mayor of New York City. The general election is still ahead but it’s extremely unlikely that the demographics of NYC would lead to a Republican victory in November. That’s great news for the black car industry, as Adams is without a doubt the best option for us.

The Black Car Assistance Corporation strongly supported his candidacy for the Democratic Primary because of his support for small businesses, public safety, and most importantly his promises to truly include us, and other stakeholders, in any decisions that affect our industry. With everything our current Mayor has done (or not done) during his tenure, we’re excited to have a candidate that finally gives us hope for the future.

On a final note, our S.A.F.E. iD program continues to grow and I am happy to announce that we now have two partners providing FREE dashboard cameras to our Covered Drivers that opt-in to the program: Nexar and Vuro. The dual-sided dashboard cameras provided by them are in high demand and more drivers than ever are opting-in. While Vuro may not be as well-known as Nexar, their camera is top notch and it also comes with an on-board device that provides even more benefits than the Nexar camera alone. The choice is yours but act quickly because it’s only a matter of time before we run out of them again. Visit www.nybcf.org/safeid to opt-in now!

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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