Hello to all! I hope everyone has been enjoying the spring weather. April was a busy month and there is a lot I’d like to update you on, so I’ll jump right in.

Last month, I wrote about TLC’s rollout of the 1,000 new for-hire vehicle (FHV) licenses for electric vehicles (EVs). At the time, only the first wave of 600 had been released, with the remaining 400 set to be released at the end of the month. As expected, the remaining 400 disappeared just as quickly as the first, with many drivers upset about the way they were released. At the end of the day, the TLC was likely constrained by the rules that were passed to issue these 1,000 licenses, and the TLC has made assurances that if any future licenses are issued, it will be done on something more akin to a lottery basis.

Last month, I also wrote about a piece of proposed legislation in the City Council known as Int. 501-A. As you may recall, this bill would give citizens the power to report vehicles blocking bike and bus lanes, as well as vehicles that block entrances or exits of school buildings, sidewalks and crosswalks. On April 24, the New York City Council’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing on this bill and several others.

Since it was initially introduced, the bill has been watered down significantly. We were very concerned that the lack of a burden of evidence for civilian complaints, coupled with the proposed financial kickback, would have created conditions that would result in drivers regularly facing unjustified complaints and penalties.

You know that TLC-licensed drivers are allowed to make quick pick-ups and drop-offs in bike lanes, but this is not necessarily common knowledge. If civilians were incentivized to file complaints, with an ambiguous burden of proof, there is no doubt that many TLC-licensed drivers would have been unfairly penalized. It is clear that this concern was heard throughout the legislative process. The monetary kickback was removed, and a requirement for the vehicle to be unoccupied was added.

However, we still argued that a burden of proof for complaints should be added to the legislation because as it’s written, a civilian complainant would only have to “allege” that a vehicle is unoccupied, and a well-timed photo could still result in unjustified penalties. We will continue monitoring this bill as it moves towards passage, and I will update you all.

Moving on, one of the biggest surprises of April was the announcement that drivers will now have to worry about speed cameras on the Long Island Expressway. Governor Kathy Hochul announced the rollout of these mobile cameras as part of National Work Zone Awareness Week. These mobile cameras, which are mounted to SUVs, were deployed at numerous locations in Northeast Queens where the LIE is being widened, as well as dozens of locations throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

For the first month that this program is running, drivers caught travelling 10 MPH or more over the posted speed limit will only receive a warning. After this grace period, violators will be fined $50 for the first offense, $75 for the second, and $100 for the third and subsequent violations. During one 45-minute test, the cameras caught 6,500 violators, which at $50 a pop would have been $325,000 for the city.

This is an incredibly lucrative program and I do not doubt that within a couple of years, we will see speed cameras along every highway in the City and even State. Please drive safely!

On a final note, I have an exciting announcement regarding our newest Earn While You Learn opportunity. The online version of our Driver Education Class has officially launched! In February, we launched the in-person version of this course and it has been immensely popular. The classes were fully booked almost immediately, and attendance has been very high.

With the launch of the online version, our Covered Drivers no longer have to wait to schedule an in-person class. You can go to https://drivered.nybcf.org now and register to take the online course. Drivers who complete the course online will receive a $75 payment and you can do so once every three years! While the online course doesn’t pay as much as the in-person course, the convenience and ease of taking the course online is unbeatable!

As always, make sure you are following us on social media so you can be the first to learn about any news and updates regarding all the benefits we offer. Until next time!

Article by Ira Goldstein

Ira J. Goldstein is the Executive Director of the New York Black Car Fund and Advisor to the Black Car Assistance Corp. (BCAC).

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