Hello to all! I hope everyone had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us again. As we get older, time definitely feels like it passes faster and the events of the last couple of years seem to have only increased that.

The biggest news of the month is that we officially have a new Mayor. Mayor-elect Eric Adams won resoundingly, with a large majority of votes from New Yorkers, and will take over as Mayor in January. As you know, the black car industry was a strong supporter of Adams from the get-go. We knew that he had always been a strong supporter of small businesses and understood the critical role they play in our city’s economy. We believed that he would fight to push forward smart policies and a better government that delivers for all New Yorkers and we look forward to seeing the direction he takes our city. Particularly, as a 20-year veteran of the NYPD, we look forward to seeing how he addresses our public safety because we know that more must be done to reel in the recent spike in crime our city has seen.

What we are most excited for however is the increased role among industry stakeholders that we are expecting to see with regard to transportation policy. He has said multiple times 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. There’s no doubt that the time for there to be industry representation on the Taxi & Limousine Commission’s (TLC) board is upon us. This will benefit not just drivers, but also the small businesses that fuel this industry. Obviously, no one is expecting for the FHV industry to have a majority on the board, but representation is critical to provide a broader perspective, as well as to have Commissioners that already understand the industry and aren’t trying to learn as they go.

Mayor-elect Adams has also expressed plans to work on reducing the size of the City’s fleet and instead increasing the usage of FHV and taxi trips for City employees. This would be a way to both increase savings for the City, as well as serve as a shot in the arm for the industries. We are definitely excited to work with Mayor-elect Adams and believe he will be infinitely better than de Blasio has been.

Speaking of the TLC, this month we also said goodbye to Nora Marino who stepped down from her post. For the past decade, she has served as the Queens Commissioner of the TLC and has been a tireless advocate for drivers and small businesses. She always aimed for justice as her goal, continuously stood for what she believed was right, and always considered all the sides of an issue. Her deep understanding of the impact of the TLC’s decisions and her ability to see the big picture has earned her the respect of industry leaders and drivers alike.

In addition to her work with the TLC, Nora has also had a successful career running a private law practice, been awarded numerous times for her work, and even created a not-for-profit organization known as the Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for her and wish her the best in her future endeavors as she continues building on a lifetime of achievement.

Moving onto some city news, Mayor de Blasio announced the return of the City’s annual Dusk and Darkness campaign aimed at promoting driver, cyclist and pedestrian safety now that Daylight Saving Time has ended and it gets dark earlier. Historically, low visibility during the dark hours of the colder months has correlated with an increase in crashes, especially while turning. You should be aware that there will be increased nighttime enforcement from the NYPD, focused on speeding and failure to yield. Police precincts will increase their on-street presence around sunset hours on high-crash corridors.

I also want everyone to be aware that the number of bus lane tickets that are being issued is increasing rampantly. In 2019, a total of 263,000 bus lane tickets were issued. In 2021 so far, there have been over 382,000 tickets issued and that number will only increase. Just last week, the TLC sent a message to drivers informing them that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has activated its bus lane cameras along the Merrick Boulevard corridor between Hillside Avenue and Springfield Boulevard and warned that drivers who block the lane will be subject to fines.

Please remember that you cannot use the bus lane to wait for passengers. However, you may stop in the bus lane for the time it takes for a passenger to enter the vehicle from the curb, or to exit the vehicle and get onto the sidewalk. All pickups and drop-offs in the bus lane must be done quickly and safely.

On a final note, The Black Car Fund has created stickers for vehicles that inform passengers about the relatively new seat belt law. As you know, New York State now requires everyone to buckle up regardless of where they sit in the vehicle. This includes both drivers and passengers. If your passengers do not wear a seat belt, your vehicle can be pulled over and your adult passengers may receive a ticket. If you are transporting a passenger under the age of 16, and they are not accompanied by a parent or guardian and do not buckle their seatbelt, you could receive a ticket yourself. The Fund’s stickers are sleek and are less visually intrusive than other versions that use bright colors. If you would like one (or two) of these FREE stickers, you can request they be mailed to you. Please email us at info@nybcf.org and include your full name, mailing address, the base you work for and mention you heard about them through the Black Car News!

I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year! We’ll talk again in 2022! Until next time!

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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