City Councilmen I. Daneek Miller and Jumaane Williams introduced legislation in May that seeks to close a loophole preventing the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) from regulating large for-hire vehicles and commuter vans. Intro. 925 would expand the definition of “for-hire vehicle” to include vehicles that seat more than 20 passengers, and that would pertain to commuter vans as well, according to a joint press release issued May 9 from the councilmen.
Previously, the law only permitted the TLC to regulate vehicles with up to 20 seats, which allowed some operators to sidestep regulations, especially non-licensed operators who added more capacity to their vehicles, Miller and Williams said.
This circumvention of the law placed law-abiding operators and for-hire vehicle business owners at a disadvantage as they tried to provide a necessary service for communities of color that lacked expansive and reliable public transportation, according to Hector Ricketts, president of the Commuter Van Association of New York. As a result, they lost customers and gained a bad reputation.
Miller agreed with Ricketts’ sentiments that licensed van operators should not be punished for the actions of non-licensed operators and in April the councilman said he would work with Mayor Bill de Blasio in replacing the commuter van stops from Parsons Boulevard to 153 Street, partly as a response to safeguarding pedestrians. The Parsons corridor was designated a Vision Zero Priority Area because it ranks in the top 10 percent boroughwide with 70 crashes from 2012 to 2016, including 30 of those accidents in which pedestrians were injured, according to the Department of Transportation.