I understand that the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) periodically sends out directives that each base must comply with 59B-13(j)(1), which mandates that all livery bases comply with all communications, directives, and summonses from the Commission. Directives from the TLC are always serious business because the failure to reply in a timely manner to a directive will result in the suspension of your base license until there is compliance. Some directives make sense because the TLC is entitled to ensure that each base is compliant with the law and TLC rules. I believe some other directives are a complete and utter waste of time.

TLC Rule 59B-12A1 requires all livery bases to have either a policy of workers’ compensation insurance or be a member of the Livery Fund. To that end, just about every livery base in New York City is a member of the Livery Fund. At the start of every year, the TLC sends a directive to all livery bases to submit their up-to-date certificate of membership in the Livery Fund. Failure to do so will result in suspension of the base license until compliance.

On the surface, this sort of directive makes sense. After all, it is in the interest of the riding public that every livery base remains compliant with the law. To ensure that each base does so, the TLC must sometimes request proof of compliance.

Normally, this would not be an issue, but when the TLC sends out such directives as they did this year on January 4, 2024, most livery bases are not yet in possession of their Livery Fund certificate of membership. This is because each base renews its membership at the start of the year, and it takes at least some nominal amount of time to create and send out the Livery Fund certificate of membership to each member. So, then each livery base has to scramble to get their certificate and comply with the directive so as not to have their license suspended.

In my opinion, the problem here is not that each base must comply with the directive or submit proof of membership in the Livery Fund; the problem is that the TLC can confirm compliance directly with the Livery Fund. Each month, the Livery Fund automatically sends the TLC a list of each livery base that is a member of the Livery Fund. All the TLC has to do is look at the list. If a base is on the list and, thus, is an active member, then why does the TLC have to send out directives for each individual base to comply?

You would think this just creates more work for the TLC. After all, the TLC has to keep track of each directive and determine who complied on time and who did not.  For those bases that complied, the TLC has to mark them off the proverbial list. For those that did not comply on time, the TLC has to suspend the base license, and then the base has to scramble to get their Livery Fund membership certificate, submit the same to the TLC, and then follow up with the TLC to confirm compliance… and of course, if a base has its license suspended for one day, then it cannot send out any dispatches for that day or else the base risks further regulatory action for dispatching without a license.

So, if the TLC has the list of each member of the Livery Fund each month, why do they still require each base to submit proof of their membership in the Livery Fund individually? My answer is multifold: First, the TLC makes money from the bases that are fined for failure to comply with the directive in a timely manner. Over the course of a year, that added money adds up. Next, I believe the TLC likes to send out directives simply because they want base owners to remember who the boss is. Finally, I believe these types of directives are sent out because it is simply the way things have always been done. Change does not come easily to government regulators. But just because this is the way things have always been done does not mean that the practice should continue.

The livery industry has seen its customer base and its roll of drivers decline for many years. The actions of the TLC in mandating that each livery base complies with its directive under extreme time constraints, all when the TLC has easy and readily available means to confirm compliance independently, surely does not help. Many livery base owners are simply struggling to survive. Making a livery base perform extra tedious work without a logical basis simply makes no sense. While it is not the job of the TLC to keep each livery base afloat during a mediocre economy, you would think that the TLC would let each livery base operate and try to survive and thrive, all while the TLC independently confirms compliance. Making livery base owners perform extra work that does not benefit anyone borders on unjust.

When there is a rationale for a rule, then the rule makes sense. When a rule is utilized as a quasi-means to harass and annoy a livery base owner, then the TLC should take a good hard look and see if they are continuing a practice simply because that is the way things have always been done. I would prefer to work with the TLC to make the lives of the livery base owners a bit easier so they can focus on running and maintaining their business. I will continue to do all I can for the betterment of the FHV industry as a whole. As always, if you have any questions, issues, or concerns, you can always reach out to me for assistance.

Article by Steven J. Shanker, Esq.

Steven J. Shanker, Esq. is General Counsel to the Livery Roundtable, Inc. and the New York Independent Livery Driver Benefit Fund.

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