Hello to all! I hope everyone has been enjoying the warmer weather and longer days. I have several topics to discuss this month, including some sad news that rocked the traditional black car industry.

On March 13th, Victor Dizengoff passed away peacefully at the age of 86. Most of you today probably don’t know who he was, but those who do, know the impact that he had on the black car industry.

I’ve always referred to him affectionately as the godfather of the black car industry. From his humble beginnings as a taxi driver in New York, he went on to found Vital Two-Way Radio, now known as Vital Transportation, one of the first black car companies. Then, through his leadership with The Black Car Assistance Corporation, he unified the industry, advocated for drivers and went on to be instrumental in the founding of The Black Car Fund. He also proudly served as its first Executive Director during its instrumental early years. There is no doubt that The Black Car Fund would not be what it is today without him.

In 1991, he took over this very publication, The Black Car News. He worked as the publisher and editor for 14 years, turning the paper into the voice of the black car industry, before passing the torch to Neil Weiss.

As a young man, he served honorably in the United States Army for three years during the Korean War. Afterwards, he went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Economics from Brooklyn College, which helped to lay the foundation for what he would go on to do. Victor leaves behind a storied legacy and he will never be forgotten.

Moving onto other news, last month I gave an update on the temporary restraining order (TRO) that was issued by a Judge in response to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance’s (NYTWA) suit against the TLC. This TRO halted the TLC’s decision to issue licenses for electric vehicles (EVs) and in February, the Judge decided to wait until the TLC issued their FHV license report.

Last year, the February report wasn’t issued until October, so it was a surprise that the TLC was on time this year, issuing their report on March 1st and ultimately finding that “additional for-hire vehicle licenses are not needed at this time”.

That decision, was not as surprising, seeing as the TLC has been dealing with immense pressure on this issue and had also received more applications than expected prior to the TRO going into effect. For now and the near future, only wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV) will be able to receive TLC vehicle licenses.

Moving onto congestion pricing, there isn’t much of an update from last month, as we’re now in a “limbo” state following the conclusion of the public comment period. The MTA is reviewing all the testimony that was submitted, both in person and in writing, and will hopefully provide an update in the coming weeks.

The majority of the testimony that was seen in person was highly polarized between those in strong favor or opposition to the plan. As I’ve said before, we’ve always supported the goals of congestion pricing but had serious concerns about how it would be applied to and affect the ground transportation industries. We submitted testimony during this latest comment period affirming that stance and urging the MTA to preserve the recommendations made by the Traffic Mobility Review Board (TMRB) because we believe it created a fair and equitable tolling structure.

It is now up to the MTA to make their final determinations and depending on how things play out, it’s likely that we will see the plan go into effect before the end of the year.

Moving on, March also marked the beginning of the process for the settlement between Uber, Lyft and NY State Attorney General Letitia James. Rust Consulting is the official settlement administrator and on March 7th, they began sending notices to drivers who qualify for the settlement funds.

As I mentioned last month, beware of any firm or individual who offers to help you with the claim. There are always those who will seek to take advantage when they can, and this situation is no different.   Phone numbers, caller ID, and email addresses can be faked to appear to come from a legitimate source. Do not share your personal or financial information with anyone who contacts you pretending to help with your claim.

If you have any questions or doubts, contact Rust Consulting directly. For those who drove for Uber between 2014 and 2017, you can reach them at 1.800.625.2332 or info@UberNYAGSettlement.com. For those who drove for Lyft between 2014 and 2017, you can reach them at 1.800.433.5314 or info@LyftNYAGSettlement.com.

On a final note, I’m excited to announce the details of our next BCF Resource Fair! Our “Steering Towards Success” Resource Fair will be held on Monday, April 29th, from 10am-3pm at our Driver Education Center located at 3710 Skillman Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101.

Like last time, staff from The Black Car Fund and our Drivers Benefits team will be on hand to answer questions about The Fund, workers’ compensation, all the benefits we provide and how you can access them! We will also have other organizations, such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, partnering with us to connect you with helpful resources. Finally, there will be many free giveaways and raffles to make the day exciting. The first 50 attendees will also receive an exclusive goodie bag! You don’t want to miss it so click here to RSVP now[1]! Space is limited so don’t wait. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Until next time!

[1] https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/sl/CiVu73z/BCFSpringResourcesFair

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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