TLC Commish on Evolving For-Hire Biz in NYC

NYC Taxi & Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi (left), addressing community and ethnic media at the March 10 Newsmakers briefing at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. At center is Errol Louis, Director of Urban Reporting at the CUNY J-School and political anchor at NY1 News at center and at right is Abu Taher, Editor of Bangla Patrika.

NYC Taxi & Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi (left), addressing community and ethnic media at the March 10 Newsmakers briefing at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. At center is Errol Louis, director of Urban Reporting at the CUNY J-School and political anchor at NY1 News, and at right is Abu Taher, editor of Bangla Patrika.

New York City Taxi & Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi told reporters from the community and ethnic media on March 10 that her agency was in the middle of a review to decide whether some of the penalties assessed against drivers for infractions have been too high. She also said that the TLC had recently named a liaison with the NYPD to address complaints that have been received from drivers about police inaction following cases in which drivers have been stiffed by passengers who left without paying their fare.

Joshi discussed the turbulence and change affecting the driver-for-hire industry in the city at a Newsmakers briefing sponsored by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Errol Louis, director of Urban Reporting at the J-School and political anchor at NY1 News, moderated the session, and was joined on the panel by Soyoung Kim, a reporter at The Korea Times, and Abu Taher, editor of Bangla Patrika.

The TLC licenses more than 150,000 drivers, who utilize about 90,000 vehicles, transporting about a million people a day in the city. “That often astounds people,” she said, noting that a taxi usually puts on about 70,000 miles a year. “So that’s a lot of people, a lot of cars, and a lot of miles under us.”

Joshi said that the TLC has recently focused on “the fundamentals” in light of the competition of so many different new ways of providing service. She said that questions about whether for-hire services should even be regulated in such a dynamic market were “quite frankly a good thing for us, because they make us look at our rules and make sure that our rules are really only regulating those things that are fundamentals and that the market can do what it needs to do on the rest.”

Driver training has been extended in multiple languages including Urdu, Bengali, and Spanish to cover safety issues, customer service and other core training matter.

The TLC has done a lot to ramp up collection data, Joshi said, and is looking to streamline it this year to track the for-hire market in as transparent a way as possible. “We are the only for-hire regulator in the country and maybe the world that has the information on trips that we have. We have it not only on our yellow and green taxes but last year began getting it for the Ubers and the Lyfts and the Gets and the Vias and that has been a tremendous undertaking.”

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