Hello to all! If you’re feeling like this is one of the hottest summers in recent memory, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re also correct, as this summer has seen record breaking heat around the globe. The benefits from The Black Car Fund are also heating up, but before I get into that, there are a few things I want to update you on!

The Central Business District Tolling Program (CBDTP), or “congestion pricing” as it’s commonly called, has been at the forefront this past month. In mid-July, the Transportation Mobility Review Board (TMRB) held a public meeting to discuss the tolling structure for congestion pricing. The overwhelming theme of the meeting was exemptions. At the time I’m writing this, the TMRB has received over 120 different requests for exemptions from individuals and groups.

As you know, the MTA’s environmental assessment stipulated that both taxicab and for-hire vehicle (FHV) drivers should only be charged a congestion toll once a day. The problem with that is that it’s hard to imagine a scenario where a once-a-day fee doesn’t fall onto the drivers. How would you properly split up a once-a-day fee among your passengers, or even among the multiple companies you may work for?

As I said previously, we want to see the surcharge kept as low as possible and applied equally throughout the ground transportation sector. But more importantly, we continue to strongly advocate for a nominal per-trip fee that can be passed along to passengers.

To that end, I met this month with a member of the TMRB, to discuss our concerns with a once-a-day fee. It was a great meeting and they were receptive to the points that I made. Throughout August, I will meet with other members of the TMBR to reiterate our concerns and ensure that the ground transportation sector is treated fairly .

Moving onto some other industry news, the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) is holding several public hearings on proposed rules in August. On August 9th, the TLC will hold hearings on rules that would require passengers to cover the return toll for the Verrazano Bridge, as well as remove the requirement for in-vehicle cameras for livery vehicles.

On August 23rd, the TLC will hold a hearing on a rule that would create a new FHV License Storage Program, while still phasing out the old one. As you may know, in 2020 the TLC created a COVID-19 FHV License Storage Program to give relief to vehicle license holders that could not afford to retain or repair their vehicles during the pandemic. This program ends on August 31st, and drivers have been notified about this numerous times.

This proposed rule would establish a new, short-term FHV License Storage Program that will allow active FHV licensees to put their FHV license in storage once during every 2-year license term for up to 60 days. The rule would also clarify that FHV licenses that are in the original FHV License Storage Program will not automatically transfer to the new one. If you have a license in storage under the old program, make sure that you remove it otherwise you will likely be subject to fines and possible suspension for failing to follow directives.

In other news, many of you likely heard the story about the driver who was stabbed by his passenger while on the FDR Drive. As a Covered Driver, his medical expenses and a portion of his lost wages will be covered by the workers’ compensation insurance that The Black Car Fund provides. However, he may also be eligible for some additional benefits through our Personal Accident Insurance. We are investigating this currently. This  benefit, along with our Accident Disability Insurance Plan truly create a strong safety net for drivers. Remember, these benefits are provided at NO-COST to you and are funded by your passengers.

There’s no reason to not be enrolled in our Drivers Benefits program, so once again, I am calling you to action. If you are not already enrolled in the Drivers Benefits program, do so immediately by visiting ny.driversbenefits.org! You are only eligible for the Accident Disability Insurance Plan and Personal Accident Insurance if you are already enrolled in the program when the accident occurs. You cannot sign-up after the fact!

Also, I’m very excited to announce that as of August 1st, 2023, another incredible benefit has been added to the Drivers Benefits Program: Critical Illness Insurance. This benefit pays eligible drivers, who are enrolled in the Drivers Benefits program, a lump sum cash amount of up to $20,000 to help cover expenses if they are diagnosed with a Covered Illness such as heart attack, invasive cancer, stroke and more!

Benefits are paid regardless of any other insurance and paid directly to you, not to doctors hospitals or other healthcare providers. You can use the cash benefit to cover household bills, rent, treatment costs, deductibles and more! If you’re reading this, please spread the word to your fellow drivers so that they can be aware of this benefit, and encourage them to enroll in Drivers Benefits if they aren’t already.

I hope you all stay cool as we continue through this summer! 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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