In the past, I have discussed how the Nassau County TLC – with the full knowledge of the reciprocity law signed into effect by Governor Pataki some years back – tried to scam and intimidate drivers into paying for secondary licenses that were unnecessary for dropping off passengers in Nassau County. I am now hearing complaints that the Westchester TLC is scamming drivers into summonses for dropping off in Westchester, something we are legally allowed to do, according to the same reciprocity law. I was told local police are in on the scam.
A friend advised me that his driver dropped at the White Plains Train Station, and was ticketed with multiple violations – and the officer lied and told the judge he saw the driver pick up a female passenger, even though there was no ID of any passenger allegedly being picked up.
In the past, I would have been skeptical, and asked for proof of a driver’s claims, but having personally experienced extortion from lying officers and judges, I am now more apt to give drivers the benefit of the doubt in such instances. In this case, I was told the White Plains judge turned off the session recording and made an offer of lower fines to the driver if he pled guilty. I believe it.
This is a recurring theme that I have heard time and again, and it REEKS of extortion. If this sounds familiar, you’re not the only one: They start with some astronomical, unaffordable fine, and then offer a “gentler” fine if you plead guilty quickly, pay up and get the hell out of their sight. Of course, there is an “easy payment plan” because they know their initial fines are unreasonably high – so they are basically knowingly stealing food from your family’s mouths. They know you are likely to capitulate because in the end, when you factor in the time spent and the risk of losing the case (even though you know you’re innocent), it’s easier to just pay the smaller fine. This now seems to be the prevalent modus operandi of local TLCs.
The fact is, you have the right to pick up or drop off in Westchester and Nassau County, as long as both pickup and drop-off are not within the same county. If no transaction occurs within the county or city, I believe they lack personal jurisdiction to tell you anything, if your base is not located within their borders.
Beating this unscrupulous method of fleecing drivers would take a razor-sharp lawyer and extreme perseverance – and I think JUSTICE would still be highly unlikely in most NY courts.
As I have warned in the past, the governments of the City and State are now again seriously discussing congestion pricing and tolling bridges that are currently free. Governor Cuomo just announced, “The time has come.” Of course it has… the city is in near gridlock now, due to their machinations. First, they intentionally created the congestion, now they are using it as a flimsy excuse to justify the fees. If it wasn’t so disastrous it would be funny.
Congestion pricing did nothing to solve the traffic congestion in London, according to the travelers that I know who frequent Great Britain. They ALL say it did not help. It did, however, fill the government’s pockets at the peoples’ expense. It was never about the traffic, it was always about the money.
Cuomo is saying all of the congestion pricing proceeds will go towards fixing and maintaining the subways. The subways already get the tax revenue from your phone and data plan, and fees charged by the Port Authority at the airports to passengers and aircraft. Many other hidden taxes go to the subways, as well as tolls. The Port Authority buys the trains and buses, and leases them to the MTA for a dollar. The agency that was once caught “cooking its books” to get more money will now get even more money…
If the subways got a trillion dollars a year, they would somehow find a need for more. It’s a bottomless hole that politicians love to try to fill. If the Port Authority buys the equipment, where is all the money going?
Next up is the Port Authority’s goal of making us pay to pick up and drop off at the airports. Be silent drivers, and they will find yet other ways to steal more of your livelihood. It never ends.
This is what I think they should do: Include in the bill that the fees be reversed permanently if it does not reduce congestion – and monitor whoever monitors the effects of it.
We are being targeted as a cash cow by the government, milking us here there and everywhere we go. All of the agencies want our blood money.
The problems it generates are onerous. The cost of taxes and tolls, and soon drop-off and pickup fees are that they are driving up rates for customers who do not want to pay more. The customers cannot deny the government’s charges, but they can refuse to pay drivers more. The customers’ bills are increasing just as ours are, but we cannot get paid more because government agencies take that money instead, in the way of ever-increasing tolls, plus the tax the clients pay that no one else does – and soon airport fees, too. Black cars based in NYC are the only form of transportation paying that tax.
The government is continuing its strong drive to enslave us with low wages and extreme fines. It’s a nightmare, and one can’t help but wonder: When will this stop? I guess if the governor, mayor and TLC keep creating rules where we don’t need them, and refuse to make rules that might actually help our industry get back on its feet, they will find the answer. If they decimate the industry and kill their cash cow, everyone loses, including them.
We can only hope it doesn’t come to that, but that does seem to be the road we’re heading down, unfortunately.
Doug Schifter is an executive chauffeur and a professional driver with decades of experience in the industry. He can be reached via email for comments or questions at [email protected].
The views expressed in the articles of contributing columnists are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of Black Car News.