Hello to all! It’s hard to believe another year is in the books. I hope everyone had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and is looking forward to the holiday season. This is always a busy time of the year, and there’s quite a few things I want to talk about this month so let’s jump right into it.

In early November, the TLC officially voted to increase yellow taximeter rates, as well as increasing the per-minute and per-mile rates for High Volume FHV drivers. Under the changes, yellow taxi riders will see the base fare go from $2.50 to $3. The surcharge for rush hour trips will increase by $1.50, the overnight surcharge will go up 50 cents, and a new $5 surcharge will be tacked on to all trips to and from LaGuardia Airport. The surcharge for taxi trips to Newark Airport will increase from $17.50 to $20 as well. The JFK Airport flat rate for taxi rides to and from Manhattan will go up from $52 to $70.

In my opinion, the changes to the yellow fares are indirectly beneficial to the black car industry as well. It closes the gap in pricing.

For High Volume FHVs, the TLC voted to increase the per-minute rates by 7.42% and per-mile rates by 23.93%. With these new rates, a sample trip of 30 minutes that goes 7.5 miles will require a minimum driver pay of $27.15, which is up $4 from the original rates, and more than $2.50 from the current rates, according to the TLC.

In other city news, Mayor Adams has unveiled a sweeping plan to open 11 car-free city blocks to pedestrians in Midtown Manhattan in an effort to encourage New Yorkers and tourists to shop at local small businesses during the holidays. During Mayor de Blasio’s tenure, street closures in Midtown became a holiday tradition, but this new plan goes a step further and will undoubtedly have a strong negative effect on vehicle traffic in the area.

The plan will transform Fifth Avenue, from 48th Street to 57th Street, into an open street on three Sundays in December: December 4, 11 and 18. The open streets will be in effect on those days between noon and 6:00pm. There are many additional changes that will affect that area too, so I strongly encourage everyone to read the full press release about the plan. You can find it at: https://nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/859-22/mayor-adams-sweeping-plan-holiday-season-car-free-open-streets-midtown-manhattan-#.

As we wrap things up, last month I wrote that we have been working hard to speak with drivers and identify what benefits would be most impactful and are most desired. In our conversations and research, one benefit stood out from all others and as of November 1st, our Accident Disability Insurance Plan, has been live!

This benefit, which is provided at no cost to eligible Covered Drivers, helps provide income protection in the event an eligible Covered Driver is injured outside of work in a covered accident, and is unable to work because of the injury. Eligible drivers can receive payments of up to 70% of their net driving income, up to a maximum of $1,500 per month, for the length of their disability, up to one year!

Unlike with workers’ compensation however, you MUST be enrolled with Drivers Benefits to be eligible for this benefit. Now more than ever, it’s essential for drivers to enroll in Drivers Benefits and spread the word to fellow drivers. Don’t wait until it’s too late! If you wait until after an injury to enroll in Drivers Benefits, you will not be eligible for Accident Disability Insurance for that injury.

To enroll, please visit ny.driversbenefits.org. More importantly, I encourage everyone to learn more about the Accident Disability Insurance Plan, including eligibility requirements and more details, by visiting https://ny.driversbenefits.org/benefits/accident-disability-insurance-plan/. In January, we will also be announcing a new benefit related to this one, so keep an eye out for details in next month’s Black Car News!

On a final note, I want to talk briefly about another one of our incredible benefits: dental insurance. Earlier this year, this benefit was revamped so that drivers don’t have to pay anything out of pocket for all in-network services. That means no deductibles and no co-pays! From fillings, crowns, or even dentures, Covered Drivers have a maximum benefit amount of $2,000 each year. If you haven’t used the dental benefit, now is the time to do so! On January 1st, that $2,000 benefit amount resets, so don’t lose out on this year’s benefit! Visit https://ny.driversbenefits.org/benefits/dental/ and try to take advantage of this benefit as soon as possible!

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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