It’s been encouraging to see the city finally helping some of the industries regulated by the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), including a lifeline to Taxi medallion owners drowning in debt and a pay raise for drivers that provide work for High-Volume For-Hire Vehicle (HVFHV) companies. Now, how about the traditional FHV bases? It’s time to give them something that they need and deserve. It’s time for the city to lift the cap on traditional FHVs, so they can survive as well.
There’s no logical reason to keep traditional bases pinned under this unjust and unwarranted restriction, at a time when business is finally starting to bounce back, when there is finally real hope that they may just have made it through what has been an absolutely brutal decade. It’s tragic that bases that have been serving NYC for so many years are being forced to actually turn away work, due to a lack of drivers, and in some instances, lose long-standing clients because they can’t accommodate their requests for service.
Drivers who paid for radio rights at traditional Black Car bases, that were forced to let their licenses lapse because money was so tight and jobs were so scarce in recent years, can’t even go back to work. It’s ridiculous.
The TLC is scheduled to conduct its bi-annual review to decide whether to keep the cap in place – and if they don’t lift it for the traditional bases RIGHT NOW, some of them likely won’t make it to the next review in six months.
The cap was put in place after city officials ignored pleas for far too long, begging them to limit the number of drivers joining HVFHV companies. The spike in traffic and the financial devastation from having to compete for rides with too many other drivers never had anything to do with the traditional bases. This should not be a complicated decision. Just do it!
I sat in on two Zoom calls where Mayor Eric Adams openly and specifically said he supported lifting the cap on traditional bases. Our industry’s leaders have been reaching out to everyone from the new chair of City Council’s Transportation Committee, Selvena Brooks-Powers and current DOT Commissioner, Ydanis Rodriguez (who Ms. Brooks-Powers replaced) to TLC Chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk and Marjorie Velázquez, the City Council member in charge of Consumer and Worker Protections to discuss this topic, among others. I just don’t understand why the city is dragging its feet.
To add insult to injury, the Governor’s budget does not currently include legislation allowing the New York Black Car Fund (BCF) to expand its benefits programs. Until that happens, a new benefit offering drivers FREE prescriptions on hundreds of medications and a new mobile bus that offers a variety of dental services (also for FREE) had to be put on hold. These, of course, are in addition to the many benefits the BCF already offers.
It’s still a terribly challenging time for so many people and businesses across the city, but as the latest Covid wave continues to recede, the weather warms and Covid restrictions for businesses are lifted, allowing them to reach their potential, it looks like there’s real hope that things will get better sooner than later. We just need a couple quick fixes: Lift the FHV cap on traditional bases and pass legislation that will allow driver-members of the BCF to enjoy new FREE benefits, as well as keeping the long list of benefits they already have.