Hello everyone and welcome to August! While last month I may have reported on the long-awaited favorable conclusions on several key issues we faced as a united Industry, it should come as no surprise to any of us that as one set of issues finds its conclusion, a new set of proposed legislative changes demands our joint attention. A package of bills emerging in the city council, with one particular bill aiming to establish a 12-month moratorium on the issuance of for-hire vehicle licenses to conduct an impact study, of sorts, is already demanding our attention, and that is just one of five bills. Let’s dive right into it.

First, before venturing into the realm of new legislative proposals, let’s re-visit the settlement reached between the NYC TLC and the for-hire vehicle (FHV) industry, like I discussed in my column last month. After unsuccessful rounds of negotiations with the TLC and a massive lobbying effort by the FHV industry, not to mention two lawsuits (federal and state), the settlement allowing bases to satisfy FHV WAV compliance mandates via a centralized dispatch option was reached. The TLC is holding a public hearing on an amendment which would allow for there to be an unlimited amount of approved Accessible Vehicle Dispatchers (AVDs), so long as they can show, at the time of application, that they are servicing a minimum of 10 FHV bases.

The TLC hearing is set to take place 10am on Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 33 Beaver Street, 19th Floor in Lower Manhattan. All parties of interest are sure to be coming out to voice their positions, so keep track of that. Also, don’t forget that the entire TLC Board of Commissioners is still required to vote on and approve the details of the settlement reached; if it is not approved, the settlement terms are voided and the lawsuits would be able to proceed.

Now, on to the new legislation we face. We are at a very early stage so here are the facts you need to know: First is a bill introduced by Council Member Levin, Int. 144-A, which calls for a 12-month moratorium on the issuance of new for-fire vehicle licenses (not including new WAV licenses), giving the TLC time to conduct a study in conjunction with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to determine and set “vehicle utilization standards.” These new “vehicle utilization standards” would be determined by the TLC “for the efficient use of FHVs based on the time spent and/or distant traveled by FHV drivers while transporting passengers or while they are available to accept dispatches from a base; and the number of passengers transported by such drivers.” Also worth mentioning is that the TLC would have the discretion to issue additional FHV licenses to increase the availability of for-hire services in areas of the city historically underserved by mass transit options, so long as the issuance of such additional licenses would not contribute to traffic congestion. During the 12-month cap and study period, the TLC would be required to report to the Mayor and City Council on the progress every three months.

The next key piece of legislation to surface is Int. 838-B, introduced by Council Member and For-Hire Vehicle Committee Chair, Ruben Diaz, S.R. This bill seeks to require “an entity that dispatches or facilitates the dispatching of 10,000 trips a day by one or more licensed black car bases, luxury limousine bases or livery base stations through an app or their similar passenger-facing booking tool…” become a new category of “high-volume for-hire service.” The number of daily trips would be calculated from the number of trips dispatched by all bases operating under the same name. Other legislative initiatives brought forward include measures to set minimum wage standards for drivers, waive the licensing fees for WAVs and reducing the penalties for unauthorized solicitation of business by drivers, more commonly known as street hails.

I will keep a close watch on the movement of these items through the city council and report back; with some of the bill package expected to be voted on by the city council as soon as August 8th at its upcoming stated (full) meeting.

As always, stay tuned to social media for the latest as it happens! Should you wish to keep track of the legislation yourself, visit http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Legislation.aspx and utilize the search function to look up the following bill numbers for the most accurate updates: Int. 144-A (12-month vehicle license moratorium), Int. 890-A (minimum driver wage), Int. 838-B (regulating “high-volume for-hire service”), Int. 634-A (waiving licensing fees for WAVs) and Int. 958-A (reducing penalties for unauthorized street hails).

Finally, I am excited to announce that The Black Car Fund, in conjunction with the Independent Drivers Guild Benefits Fund, will be rolling out a brand-new van to promote our new driver vision benefits! This van, set to hit the road within the next one to two months, will make its way to driver hotspots throughout the area conducting on-the-spot vision tests! Drivers who have driven a total of 85 consecutive hours per month with passengers in the car for three consecutive months are eligible! For more information on this benefit, as well as to determine for sure your potential eligibility for this service, please visit www.DriversBenefits.org or call the Drivers Benefit Hotline at 1-833-814-8590.

Also, I am thrilled to announce that as I write this, IDG Benefits Fund is currently working on a benefit management app for drivers to organize and keep track of all of their benefits! They’re really piling up!

As always, until next time, follow the BCAC and Black Car Fund on social media. Have a great August!

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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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