A very Happy New Year to all! 2021 has come and gone and now we enter 2022 with hope for better things to come. December was a busy month with a lot of news to report, so let’s jump right into it.

The new year officially kicks off the tenure of Mayor Eric Adams. However, he certainly didn’t wait until January 1st to start working. Throughout December, Mayor Adams made many important appointments to critical positions.

First, City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez was appointed as the next Department of Transportation Commissioner. Councilmember Rodriguez has been a staunch advocate and supporter of the ground transportation industry and understands the issues that affect us. We believe that this knowledge makes him a strong pick for this position.

Mayor Adams also appointed former TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi as Deputy Mayor for Operations, a significant position in the administration.

Lastly, current TLC Commissioner Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk will remain in her position in the Adams Administration. It’s clear that there is a lot of experience on this transportation slate.

We are ready and looking forward to working with Mayor Adams and his administration. As I’ve said many times before, the black car industry strongly supported his candidacy because of his lifelong support of small businesses and his positions on public safety. We’re also excited that Mayor Adams has expressed support for 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 major boom to the black car and ground transportation industry, while also helping to increase savings for the city.

In December, the Black Car and Livery Task Force, which was established in 2020, issued its report discussing the state of these industries and making policy recommendations for the traditional industries. As you may recall, Diana Clemente, President of the Black Car Assistance Corporation, was one of the appointees to this task force and played a critical role in making these recommendations. One of the recommendations that we feel is most significant, is allowing traditional black car and livery bases to increase the number of vehicles affiliated with them. As stated in the report, “traditional Black Car and Livery industries play an important role in the City’s transportation network, including providing mobility in the outer boroughs for passengers who have historically had fewer transportation options. In order to ensure sufficient service and sustainable Black Car and Livery industries moving forward, the Task Force recommends that TLC work to increase the number of vehicles affiliating with Black Car and Livery bases that have seen their trip numbers and affiliated vehicles significantly decrease. Many Task Force members felt very strongly that this should include an exception to the license pause, allowing a certain number of new licenses to be issued, or expiring licenses to be repurposed, for vehicles that perform trips exclusively for Black Car and Livery bases.” This would be a major decision that would help the traditional sector compete with the High Volume For-hire Vehicle companies like Uber and Lyft.

Moving onto one of the biggest developments from December, as you may have heard, Mayor de Blasio enacted a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers that requires them to obtain proof of vaccination from their employees. Please be advised that as per the language of the Order, Black Car drivers and all other independent contractors in the ground transportation industry in New York City are considered “covered entities,” which means that it applies to you as well.

As per the order, effective December 27, 2021, you must have proof of vaccination, which is defined as the ability for you to demonstrate that you either:

  • Have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Have received one dose of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Have received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, provided that you also provide proof of receiving the second dose of that vaccine within 45 days after receiving the first dose.

For the purposes of the order, “fully vaccinated” means that at least two weeks have passed after an individual received a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that requires only one dose, or the second dose of a two-dose series of a COVID-19 vaccine. The order also outlines the penalties that you, as an independent contractor, could face for non-compliance.

The Department of Health has also issued a list of frequently asked questions that will be helpful as we navigate through this unprecedented action. The FAQ states that you must keep your own proof of vaccination with you at all times. The Black Car Fund has plastic vaccination cardholders available for Covered Drivers to protect your paper vaccine cards. If you would like one mailed to you, please email us at [email protected] with your full name, mailing address, the base(s) you work for, and mention that you heard about this through the Black Car News!

On a final note, I would like to touch upon a few of the benefits that The Black Car Fund offers its Covered Drivers. First, if you’re a Covered Driver with an accepted Workers’ Compensation claim and have been receiving your indemnity payments by paper check, you can now receive them via Direct Deposit! If you would like to enroll in Direct Deposit, please visit www.nybcf.org/directdeposit and sign up!

Secondly, don’t forget that The Black Car Fund offers you the opportunity to earn while you learn with our Enhanced New York State Defensive Driving Course and our BCF Wellness STEP class. As you know, the TLC requires its licensees to complete a defensive driving course once every three years. Instead of paying for it, you can take ours for FREE and even receive a $300 payment once every three years! You can also earn a one-time payment of $150 by completing our Wellness STEP class! You can sign up for both of these by visiting www.blackcarsafetyclasses.com.

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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