In the year that just passed, New York City’s ground transportation industry was marked by tragedy and uncertainty. As we begin 2019, optimism may not be easy to come by, but there is some small comfort in knowing that many of the most pressing problems plaguing drivers and bases have at least been identified and solutions are being aggressively pursued.
There is no silver bullet to fix a system so complex and damaged, but there is one important way to help to minimize the pain and maximize the progress that is being sought by City Council and the Taxi & Limousine Commission: People need to join forces, pursue common goals and use their newfound power in numbers to help steer the industry in the right direction.
There will be disagreements, compromises may be necessary, and the road will be fraught with challenges, but standing alone just does not seem like a wise option for anyone at this point. If you are a driver, join an organization of like-minded people and participate when called upon. Same goes for base owners. The years of mistrust and finger-pointing have not been helpful, and I truly believe it’s well past due for ALL base presidents to band together and join an association like the Black Car Assistance Corporation (BCAC).
For her part, newly elected BCAC President, Diana Clemente is focusing her efforts at the dawn of a New Year on developing a “President’s Think-tank,” and inviting people who have not previously engaged in industry groups to step up, participate and join the ranks of those who share many of the same problems.
“This year, I’m determined to make a difference, but I can’t do it alone,” says Ms. Clemente. “First, I’d like to address the presidents of those groups that are not BCAC members. I respectfully ask that you reconsider joining our efforts, if not for yourselves, then at least on behalf of your affiliated drivers. We must stand united as a cohesive force. Our drivers deserve to be able to live without the fear of crippling economic hardship, and nothing has driven that point home more than the tragic suicides of 2018. We simply can’t let that horrible trend continue, we must do everything in our power to right the ship and put our industry back on course. Who among us is not focused on customer service, bending over backwards whenever necessary to not just meet, but exceed the needs of our clients? Yet our rates have remained stagnant for more than a decade, due to downward pressure from corporations.”
If you haven’t already, I urge you to place unity and the pursuit of fair rates among your top resolutions for 2019. The past year has been eye-opening for so many people who did not previously see and understand the pain being inflicted on our industry, but we have all seen it now, stark and painfully clear. This includes the accountants at NYC’s large corporations, whose job is specifically to cut costs and optimize profits. They can no longer feign ignorance over what happens when you pressure struggling businesses to operate at a loss – they know better than anyone the cost of doing business and what is required for a company to function.
On January 10 at 3:00, the BCAC is conducting its first meeting of the New Year at 30 Wall Street. The organization invites ALL company presidents to attend, including member presidents and non-member presidents.
“If you are concerned about our future as an industry and the welfare of your drivers, I strongly urge you to attend,” says Ms. Clemente. “And to the extent that a company president has a conflict with that time and day, a high-ranking management member of your base is invited to attend on your behalf.”
If you are a base president reading this after January 10, or you are prevented from attending the meeting for any reason, you can still reach out to the BCAC and make plans to learn more and join the organization by emailing Jason Fromberg at [email protected] or calling (929) 358-7900. If you are a driver reading this, please, urge your leadership to attend the January 10 meeting and learn more about what they can do to help make a difference. If you are planning to attend, please RSVP with Jason Fromberg at the above contact information.
As we turn the page and begin 2019, I want to offer my most sincere wishes to ALL of our readers for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!