Ryan Wanttaja, an 11-year NYC TLC veteran who recently served as General Counsel, was appointed Acting Chair. Three of nine seats on TLC’s Board appear to be vacant. Is it time for driver and base representatives?
Even for a NYC taxi and for-hire transportation industry used to volatility, the past week has been noteworthy. After news broke that NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) Chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk resigned, specifics on what comes next have been hard to come by. In fact, if you go to TLC’s site (as late March), there still isn’t a press release on the matter (only a non-specific notice for a Commission meeting on March 17, at 10am).
To be fair, the incident likely blindsided the TLC, but drivers and other industry participants need to know what the current state of affairs is at the powerful regulator. After all, the agency is in charge of overseeing the multi-billion-dollar NYC for-hire transportation market and commercial NYC TLC drivers.
While reports on the incident that led to Heredia Jarmoszuk’s resignation are concerning, we think it’s important to learn more about exactly what happened, from her directly. Perhaps a fuller story will come out in the weeks ahead, so we want to refrain from commenting too much on the reported incident for now.
Who is the Acting NYC TLC Chair?
Ryan Wanttaja, a long-time TLC employee (most recently General Counsel & Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs), has taken on the role of acting NYC TLC Chair & Commissioner. Given his prominent and public position, here is a link to his LinkedIn profile. It appears Mr. Wanttaja is well versed in the NYC TLC industry, given his robust experience at the agency. Whether Mr. Wanttaja remains TLC Chair in a more permanent capacity is still TBD.
NYC TLC History & Three Vacant Commission Board Slots
According to TLC rules, the Board SHOULD consist of nine members, of which only one (the Chair) is paid. Based on the latest list of Commissioners only SIX of the NINE spots are filled. Since Mayor Eric Adams only recently took office, perhaps there is a delay in updating the list, but it should be made clear to the industry in fairly short order. In addition, given all the recent tumult in the industry, we also believe it is time to seriously consider driver and base representatives on the TLC Board. Ideally, there should be driver and base representatives from each major NYC for-hire category: Yellow Taxi, Green Taxi, Black Car, Livery, Lux Limo and High-Volume FHV.
Is it Time for Base & Driver Representatives on the NYC TLC Board?
Right now, the NYC TLC industry is in flux after a highly disruptive period that coincided with the rise of app-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. From the recent yellow cab debt relief deal to the black car & livery industries calling for an exemption to the FHV License Pause (aka TLC Plate Cap), it might be as good a time as any to redefine how the NYC TLC Board looks.
As recently mentioned in Black Car News, there is a proposed City Council bill that wants to increase the size of the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission Board from 9 to 11! In fact, the proposal is summarized as follows:
“This bill would increase the size of the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) board from 9 to 11 commissioners. The two additional commissioners would be required to hold a valid TLC driver license and would be appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Council.” – NYC Council Bill
This is probably an idea worth considering, EVEN MORE SO NOW, with the news of the recent TLC Chair’s resignation. Instead of the current US vs. THEM mentality (i.e., Yellow vs. Uber, regulator vs. driver, etc.) that currently exists in the NYC for-hire transportation community, it’s a perfect time for this industry to come together to solve the very real issues everyone collectively faces. The only thing we would add is for the legislation to also include NYC TLC base representatives to the Commission’s Board, in addition to NYC TLC drivers.
Let us know what you think? Do you think NYC TLC Driver(s) and/or Base Representative(s) should hold TLC Board Seats? Why or why not? Would there be a conflict of interest? What are the main benefits and downsides in your view?