Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission held its first public hearing on Thursday about proposed rule changes in the taxi industry as the city’s five borough taxi legislation comes to fruition and street hail permits begin to be sold in June.
A cross section of industry stakeholders packed into the Taxi and Limousine Commission ‘s hearing room in Lower Manhattan for their chance to weigh in as commissioner David Yassky attempted to assuage concerns by saying all testimony would be considered when making tweaks to the new system.
The commission is expected to vote on the package next month.
Several livery base owner groups and individual bases said they were concerned that the rules as written would penalize livery bases with fines or a point system when drivers with these new permits break the law.
“The base would be held responsible for an action the base cannot control or be privy to or have no ability to stop in the future,” said Tarek Mallah, general manager of Dial-7 Car Service.
Richard Emery, with the trade association the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, was among the yellow taxi industry stakeholders who said there is already a problem of illegal poaching within the industry.
“Now the law and these rules seek to add up to 18,000 livery hail licenses that will compound, not alleviate the poaching scourge,” he said.
Emery suggested that the TLC seize vehicles that don’t honor the prescribed boundaries.
Others within the industry said they were confused about how this new class of for hire vehicle will operate and potentially change how they do business.
During the the hearing it was decided the TLC would attempt to do more outreach by sending out 60,000 duplicate information packets to licensees since several information sessions about the rule changes have been poorly attended.
“Every segment of the industry is fearful about these new rules," said David Pollock, executive director for the Committee for Taxi Safety, a group that handles leasing for yellow taxi medallions. "The TLC needs to work with all parts of the industry to make sure one segment is not destroyed in the process.”