At its Oct. meeting, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) is proposing an increase to a surcharge that compensates owners and drivers of wheelchair-accessible taxis, along with a pay raise for taxi drivers and adjustments to airport fees.

The wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV) fee proposal seeks to increase the existing 30-cent customer charge on all yellow and green taxi trips to $1, to help fund upgrades ordered nearly a decade ago as part of a landmark federal class-action lawsuit settlement. The settlement originally called for half of the then-13,237 medallion cabs to be accessible by 2020.

There are currently 13,587 medallion taxis, but an analysis of TLC data by media outlet, THE CITY showed that only 2,886 of the 7,337 yellow taxicabs in service as of early Sept. (approx.. 39%) were wheelchair accessible. Among the 1,193 green taxis active at that time, fewer than 5% were accessible.

Although there is no 50% accessibility requirement for other TLC-regulated industries, all TLC-licensed bases must provide access to wheelchair-accessible service in a timely manner and pay drivers of those vehicles higher rates.

The original taxi WAV deadline was pushed back from 2020 to June 30, 2023. Since 2015, the city has collected nearly $200 million to help garages, medallion owners and cabbies offset the added costs associated with buying and operating a WAV, including vehicle conversions, gas and maintenance. TLC records show the taxi improvement funds last year directed $11.6 million to nearly 2,200 owners of WAVs and $6.3 million to more than 3,000 drivers of yellow or green taxis equipped for wheelchairs and scooters.

“As TLC has already increased the benefits received by drivers and owners of wheelchair accessible vehicles, increasing the surcharge will help finance those disbursements and keep the fund sustainable,” TLC Commissioner David Do said.

The TLC is also set to discuss raising the pick-up rate from $2.50 to $3 for taxi drivers, increasing the JFK Airport flat fare from $52 to $65, and introducing a new LaGuardia Airport surcharge. The TLC has stated that the changes are meant to “help address the challenges of the evolving taxicab and street hail livery sectors and their need for revitalization by putting more money in the pockets of drivers.”

The amendments are based on testimony and written comments received at the TLC’s May 23 hearing, reviews of driver compensation and passenger fares, average wait times for drivers, average metered fares, and changes in the Consumer Price Index since the previous fare adjustment, among other things. Specifically, the analysis of industry needs has the agency considering the following amendments to Sections 51-03, 58-26 and 82-26 of its rules:

  • The initial unit charge would be increased from $2.50 to $3.
  • The Taxicab Improvement Surcharge and Street Hail Livery Improvement Surcharge would be increased from $0.30 to $1.
  • The additional unit charge would be increased from $0.50 to $0.70.
  • The rush hour surcharge would be increased from $1 to $2.50.
  • The nighttime surcharge would be increased from $0.50 to $1.
  • The taxi flat fare for trips between Manhattan and Kennedy Airport, and the SHL flat fare for trips from Manhattan to Kennedy Airport, would be increased from $52 to $65.
  • The rush hour taxi and SHL flat fare surcharge for Kennedy Airport trips would be increased from $4.50 to $5.
  • A new surcharge of $5 would be created for all taxi trips to and from LaGuardia Airport, and all SHL trips to LaGuardia Airport hailed outside of the Hail Exclusionary Zone.
  • The taxi surcharge for all trips to Newark Airport would be increased from $17.50 to $20.

Changes to the metered rate, not including changes to surcharges and flat fares, are projected to result in the following for passengers, drivers, and medallion owners:

  • An increase in average passenger fares of 22.9%
  • An increase in driver revenue of 33.3%
  • An increase in medallion revenue of 29.5%

The TLC is taking public comments at its hearing on Oct. 6, at 10:00am. To take part, email the TLC at or call (212) 676-1135 by Oct. 5.

Source: Patch New York City

Article by Black Car News

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