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Transportation Nation

Drive Like Your Family Lives Here

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Drivers, your choices matter. That's the message of a powerful video that cabbies and city workers will soon watch as part of their driver training.
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Transportation Nation

City Failed to Take Action Against 4,500 Dangerous Cab Drivers

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Summonses are going out this week to 4,500 dangerous cab drivers New York should have flagged — but didn't, thanks to a software glitch.

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Transportation Nation

Lights Out for NYC Taxi "Off Duty" Lights

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The question of "is that taxi free or not?" could soon be easier to answer in New York. On Thursday, the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to do away with the off-duty lights. Here's a visual:

Whereas once there were two categories of lights, with four combinations:

(photo by magnus via filckr)

The city's Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to just have this -- the medallion number:

(photo "adjusted" by WNYC's Stephen Nessen)

David Yassky, the TLC commissioner, said off-duty taxi lights "are a relic of bygone days" and that the rules change will make the system easier to understand.

"The only purpose it serves today is to confuse the passenger," he said, adding that the TLC hears complaints "all time" about rooftop lights. "Taxi roof lights should be simple.  If it's on, it means you can flag the cab down. If it's off, it's unavailable."

(Only one commissioner voted against the proposal: Iris Weinshall, a former NYC transportation commissioner who was in the news last year for her dislike of the Prospect Park West bike lane.)

Yassky said people hailing cabs don't care about the particulars of the lighting system. "The passenger only cares if the cab is available or not."

He said he hopes the new system will do away with another perennial vexation -- the way some cabbies use the off-duty light to cherry-pick customers. "It's a source of frustration (for passengers)," he said. "Sometimes they see drivers with the off-duty sign on go from person to person asking 'where are you going' and we don't want that to happen."

That's currently possible because the switch controlling the lights is manual. But when the off-duty lights fade away, so will the driver's control over the roof light.

According to the minutes of the May 2012 public hearing on the rules change, the single light roof light would eliminate the manual switch that controls the off-duty light. Instead, it would be controlled automatically and synched with the meter. So when the meter is engaged, the medallion number light will automatically turn off, and when the trip is over, the light will turn back on.

The new rule technically takes effect 30 days after being posted in the city record. But there could still be off duty lights on top of cabs until April, which is the end of the first quarter inspection period.

 

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Transportation Nation

Taxi Hail App Leaves New York City Yellow Cabs in its Rear View Mirror

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

(Photo by Caitlyn Kim)

In a bitter blog post, the head of a taxi-hail smart phone app said his company was pulling the app out of New York City yellow cabs -- one month after launching.

Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, said bureaucracy had prevented his app from gaining a foothold in the city's taxi fleet.

"We did the best we could to get more yellows on the road but New York’s TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission) put up obstacles and roadblocks in order to squash the effort around e-hail," Kalanick writes.

Uber allows ride-seeking passengers to hail available cabbies with their smartphones. But the app got a chilly reception when it entered the New York market in September. Only 160 cabbies participated in the UberTAXI pilot -- a fraction of the city's 13,000 yellow cab fleet.

The TLC said it was restricting the use of electronic hail apps due to "current contractual agreements between the TLC and payment processors." A passenger using the smartphone app pays its fare to Uber. But the TLC has existing -- and exclusive -- contracts with two companies (Verifone and CMC) for payment service. The agency says until those contracts expire next year, it can't allow any other company to process fares.

And another obstacle: the TLC also reminded cabbies last month that New York law forbids the use of electronic devices while driving.

While some cities (most notably Boston and San Francisco) are Uber-friendly, the app has met with resistance in other places. The company has been battling the Washington D.C. city council over regulations, and it's being sued in Chicago over its practice of automatically charging a 20 percent gratuity.

"We’ll bite our tongues and keep our frustration here to ourselves," Kalanick writes, not entirely succeeding. "In the meantime you can try UberTAXI in more innovation-friendly cities."

But the taxi app could one day return to New York. TLC commissioner David Yassky said the agency "is moving toward rule changes that will open the market to app developers and other innovators. Those changes cannot legally take place until our existing exclusive contracts expire in February. We are committed to making it as easy as possible to get a safe, legal ride in a New York City taxi, and are excited to see how emerging technology can improve that process."

That rule change could be introduced at a TLC meeting next month.

Uber's car service hail apps -- UberX and Uber Black -- continue to operate in New York.

 

 

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Transportation Nation

NYC Approves 17% Cab Fare Hike

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Drivers rejoice & head of TWA Bhairavi Desai is moved to tears after the Commission's vote (photo by Kathleen Horan/WNC)

Bhairavi Desai, head of the drivers group Taxi Workers Alliance, cheering the vote with drivers (photo by Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

The price of taking a cab will be going up in the fall.

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission voted Thursday to approve a fare hike that would increase the cost of a ride by 17 percent.

The TLC estimates that the average fare of $10.44 would rise to $12.21 after the increase is expected to go into effect in September. The plan increases the mileage and waiting charges, but not the base fare of $2.50.

The flat fee between Manhattan and Kennedy Airport would jump from $45 to $52 and the surcharge to/or from Newark Liberty International Airport would also rise from $15 to $17.50.

Commissioner David Yassky said even though New Yorkers will be paying more, they also realize it’s the right time. “Most passengers that I talked to understand that after six years it’s only reasonable to increase the taxi fare,” Yassky commented.

New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission head David Yassky, speaking to press (photo by Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

Six commissioners, including Yassky, voted to approve the hike, two voted no, and one abstained.

Cabbies attending the meeting cheered as they learned the measure they fought hard for was passed.

They were also were pleased by several other aspects of the proposal, including replacing the 5 percent-per-swipe credit card fees with a flat $10.00 fee per shift charge and establishing a driver heath fund.

There had been much angling behind the scenes by large taxi fleet owners who said they also deserved an increase in leasing rates because their costs were also rising. Borough Commissioners from Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn appeared to agree with them when they spoke and voted against the plan. Staten Island Commissioner Elias Arout described giving drivers a raise and not the garages “lopsided.”

Michael Woloz, a spokesman with the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, no stranger to litigating with the city, said they’re reviewing their options. “Time and time again when the TLC has passed unlawful rules we have fought them and the courts have affirmed our position,” Woloz said.

But Bhairavi Desai, head of the drivers group Taxi Workers Alliance, said not having to share the increase with rich medallion owners was a triumph. “We just defeated the 1 percent. We don’t have their money, their lobbyists, or their P.R. people,” a tearful Desai said. ”Today is evidence that working people can still win in this society.”

The commission said going forward, it would consider lease and fare increases every odd numbered year so that neither side of the industry had to wait so long to for an increase again.

Fares last went up in 2006 when waiting time charges increased. The last time overall cab fees rose was 8 years ago, when a 26 percent increase passed.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Cab Drivers Push for Fare Hike Ahead of TLC Vote

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Taxi drivers made their feelings known through testimony and signs (photo by Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

(New York, NY - WNYC) Cab drivers from throughout the city came out in force on Monday to push the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission to approve the proposed 17 percent fare hike.

The increase, if approved later this week, would increase charge per mile but the $2.50 base rate would stay the same. The flat fare to and from JFK Airport would also jump from $45 to $52.

Speaking to a room mostly of fare-hike backers during a hearing Monday, TLC Commissioner David Yassky said he supports the measure, which would be the first time in six years that fares have increased.

"The price of a loaf of bread has gone up. A gallon of milk has gone up. Certainly, the price of a gallon of gasoline has gone way up, and I think that taxi passengers understand they have to pay for some of that,” Yassky said.

But approval of the plan isn’t a done deal. Just two of the commission’s nine TLC commissioners appeared at the hearing, and medallion owners have been angling behind the scenes.

At least one borough Commissioner, Frank Carone of Brooklyn, has said he’d vote against the proposal as it stands now because the increase doesn't meet the guidelines for rules that govern fare increases.

But the head of the Taxi Worker Alliance, Bhairavi Desai, said the wait has been too long.

“The idea that hard-working people are earning 25 percent less today than what they earned in 2006 is absolutely unacceptable,” Desai said. “After 12 long hours behind a wheel, collectively serving over a half a million people, there’s no question taxi drivers deserve to make a livable income.”

Fleet owners complained the fare proposal leaves them out. The TLC isn't considering increasing the amount garages can charge drivers for renting the taxi and medallion—otherwise known as lease caps.

Michael Woloz, spokesman for the fleet group the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, urged the commission to consider their rising costs too. He said the price of maintaining a garage is expensive.

“(To) have tow truck operators, gas stations  and mechanics that work 24 hours a day to make sure New Yorkers’ taxi service is that best in the world—that costs money” Woloz said.

He said a 19 percent increase to both fares and lease caps would be more equitable.

But, according to TLC figures, fleets can make about $48,650 per medallion, meaning a 200-cab fleet could make more than $9 million a year, which the TLC doesn’t consider a hardship.

The TLC is scheduled to vote on the plan this Thursday.

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Transportation Nation

As NY Taxi Commission Prepares for Historic Vote, Dissent Looms

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Livery Cab (photo by Kate Hinds)

(New York, NY -- WNYC) The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission is poised to vote tomorrow on a set of rules to pave the way for a historic change in the way New Yorkers can hail cabs.   Beginning this summer, if the rules pass, New Yorkers will be able to hail cabs in all five boroughs, not just Manhattan.

But there's dissent among some of the commissioners about whether the 200 pages of regulations that will govern the service is being rushed to a vote.

Some on the nine-member board of the TLC say they’d like more time to consider the repercussions and make necessary tweaks to the plan.

And TLC Commissioner David Yassky is frantically trying to settle the biggest differences before the vote (for a peek at his internal memo, click here).

Queens Commissioner Norah Marino thinks there should be more time to digest the biggest change in the industry in more than 70 years.

“We just got the amended rules a couple of days ago. It’s not enough time to make a responsible decision,” Marino said. She’d like to have at least a few more months to digest the proposal.  I know the city wants to sell these permits but that’s not a valid reason to rush this vote. "This is changing the landscape of an industry — it’s not a minor vote.”

The street hail livery plan will allow owners and drivers of for-hire vehicles to pick up passengers in Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Queens (excluding the airports), and Manhattan north of West 110th and East 96th streets.

Staten Island Commissioner Elias Arout would also like to delay a vote. He said he has serious concerns about whether it’s good for Staten Island in the first place, but would like to have more time to consider the possible effects on his borough’s livery industry. “We’re trying to ask Chairman Yassky to extend the vote for a few months but he wants this done Thursday,” he explained.

TLC Spokesman Allan Fromberg said they have every expectation of moving forward with a vote this week as planned.

The plan to deliver legal street hail livery service beyond Manhattan where most yellow cabs operate has been a central focus of Bloomberg administration over the past year. The eagerness to complete the process is also budgetary, since the billion dollars in expected revenue from the scheduled yellow medallion auction this summer is tied to the sale of the first livery street hail licenses.

Commissioner Frank Carone of Brooklyn said he’s prepared to cast his vote in support because TLC has agreed to make some last minute rule changes. In the most recent TLC memo to commissioners, Commissioner Yasky addresses some of the last minute changes, including increasing penalties for accepting street hails outside the upper Manhattan zone, where the street hail liveries are banned from picking up passengers. Carone also thinks moving forward is the best for all concerned. “The industry needs closure,” he said.

While upper Manhattan Councilman and former livery driver Ydanis Rodriguez  supports the overall plan, he hopes the TLC exercises some caution as they move to implement it. “I believe it’s a good initiative but now is the time to look at the details so that the users, the livery divers, and base owners have a clear understanding. We should take the time that is needed to make sure we have a good plan,” he said.

The public hearing and TLC vote on the livery hail draft rules will be held at Brooklyn Borough Hall at 9 a.m. on the April 19.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: NYC Mayor Backing #7 Subway to Secaucus Plan, BP Profits Triple, BRT to Michigan?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Mitt Romney is making President Obama's support for two high-end green car companies a campaign issue. (Link)

The first Mexican truck has crossed the US border. (Link)

Formula 1 racing is coming to NJ. (Link)

Waiting for a bus on Staten Island (photo by johnpignata via Flickr)

But: is NY making its own "ARC mistake" by killing transit on the bridge? (Second Avenue Sagas)

And: the lack of transit drew criticism at a Tappan Zee public comment session. (Journal News)

Real-time bus arrival information will come to Staten Island by the end of the year. (Staten Island Advance)

A Maryland panel recommended a gas tax hike, fare increases and an end to transit raids to fund state transportation projects. (Baltimore Sun)

The NY Post reports that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be announcing plans to move forward on extending the No. 7 subway to New Jersey.

The Port Authority will raise the Bayonne Bridge by 2016. (NorthJersey.com)

Michigan's governor wants to jump start a regional transit system in Detroit with bus rapid transit. (Detroit Free Press)

NYC taxi update: the city will crackdown on the $350 no-honking-except-in-an-emergency rule (WNYC).  And the Taxi and Limousine Commission is surveying passengers about their cab rides (NY Daily News).

Boeing's Dreamliner made its maiden voyage after a three-year delay. (Guardian)

18 months after the massive oil spill in the Gulf, BP stages a comeback: company profits have tripled. (Marketplace)

Reporters complain about the Acela, continue to ride it. (Politico)

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Transportation Nation

NYC Okays Wheelchair Accessible Cab

Thursday, October 20, 2011

An MV-1, parked outside NYC TLC headquarters (photo by Kate Hinds)

New York just approved a new vehicle for use in the city's taxi fleet -- a wheelchair-accessible, Indiana-made MV-1.  But riders will only have a few years to hail them before the city's non-accessible "Taxi of Tomorrow" becomes the only sanctioned model.

The vote, which happened at Thursday's Taxi and Limousine Commission meeting, came less than a week after the US Attorney's office weighed in on a lawsuit against the city and said that the lack of wheelchair-accessible cabs violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Disabled activists were on hand at the TLC meeting to testify in support of a rules change necessary to authorize the MV-1 -- and to talk about how difficult it is to hail a cab in the city. Jean Ryan with Disabled in Action said the lack of wheelchair-accessible cabs was frustrating.

Advocates for the disabled at the TLC hearing (photo by Kate Hinds)

"We can never see them, and the stickers are in the back," she said. "So they’ve passed us by the time we see that they’re accessible – if we ever see one. It’s like an Elvis sighting.”

City Council member Oliver Koppel was also there to support the rules change -- and to criticize New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said yesterday that it was too difficult for people in wheelchairs to hail taxis on the street in the first place, and that able-bodied people would feel uncomfortable in a wheelchair-accessible cab because "their suspension is much worse."

“I think the mayor’s concerns are totally off the wall,” Koppell said. He added that “37 members of City Council believe we should have an all-accessible fleet. The US Justice Department believes it. The governor apparently believes it, and it’s long past time for this commission to move in that direction.”

Currently, 231 of New York City's 13,237 taxi cabs are wheelchair accessible.

The MV-1 will retail for about $40,000. It weighs about 5,000 pounds and gets between 13 and 15 miles per gallon, depending on whether the engine uses compressed natural gas or regular fuel. No word yet on how many NYC medallion owners might be tempted to purchase one. But even if drivers take the plunge, they'll only be able to pilot it for a few more years. In May, the city awarded Nissan the contract for the Taxi of Tomorrow. The NV200 will begin to hit the streets by late 2013 and the Nissan will be the only cab in town by 2018. But the NV200 is not wheelchair accessible.

Assembly Member Micah Kellner, wearing a yellow and black button that said "Separate Is Not Equal," said at the TLC meeting: “I don’t care what the Taxi of Tomorrow is, because I think at the end of the day the Justice Department is going to decide that for us.”

Another view of the MV-1 (photo by Kate Hinds)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: FAA Allows NYC Helicopters Into Off-Limits Airspace, NYC Taxis May Get New Roof Lights, Michigan Town Loses Streetlights

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New York's Tappan Zee Bridge got expedited approval from the feds, but construction is years away. (Link)

(photo by Dino Abatzidis via Flickr)

A House committee will hold a hearing on President Obama's infrastructure bank proposal today. (The Hill)

The UAW reached a tentative deal with Chrysler. (Detroit Free Press)

New York is considering a new roof light system for taxis. (DNA Info, New York Times)

The Federal Aviation Administration said it's allowing some NYC sightseeing helicopters to use airspace that's supposed to be off-limits to local air traffic. (WNYC)

DC's Metro is trying to figure out ways to make parking easier for for riders -- and is also encouraging riders to bike to stations by building bike corrals. (Washington Examiner)

A Michigan town is losing more than half its streetlights as part of a settlement over an unpaid electric bill. (Detroit Free Press, Michigan Messenger)

Transportation Alternatives has compiled a list of NYC's most dangerous intersections for pedestrians and bikers. (New York Daily News)

Reimagining urban flight: an environmental designer creates 'urban fly lines.' (The Takeaway)

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Transportation Nation

NYC Taxi Commish Setting Up Shared Cabs from U.S. Open

Friday, May 20, 2011

(photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

(New York, NY -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC)  The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission has approved a new group taxi ride stand at the U.S. Open in Flushing, Queens this summer. Last year there was a high demand for cabs after the tennis matches but a short supply of cabs. (There were 6, 841 taxi trips to the Open in 2010).

Before the recent commissioner, David Yassky, took over in the spring of 2010, shared cabs in New York City were a no-no.

The TLC has created a new fare structure for sharing cabs back to Manhattan after the tennis matches, one of the most economically successful sporting events the city hosts.  The TLC is hoping the shared-rides will attract more taxi drivers out to the tournament. There’s also a potential cost savings for passengers to share rides.

The flat rate to Manhattan with one stop is 35 dollars…2 stops $46…3 stops $54 and 4 stops $60 dollars.

New York City has been experimenting with shared cab rides with mixed success.  It says it will keep routes from the airports and Port Authority bus terminal, but other less-frequented routes will be discontinued.

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Transportation Nation

New York's Taxi Riders: Credit Cards Yes, TV No

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) They like the option to pay by credit card. But they hate the fare. Over 30% of riders also liked the ease of hailing cabs, and a similar number felt that they were faster than public transportation.  And they don't like Taxi TV, which earned disdain from a third of riders.

These were some of the opinions the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission gleaned from a survey of over 22,000 cab riders. The TLC wanted to learn passengers' likes and dislikes about cab riding--and also collect feedback to put to use in the Taxi of Tomorrow competition.

And when it comes to voting for the actual Taxi of Tomorrow -- the cab that the city will require owners to purchase, starting in 2014 -- the Karsan was the favorite.

You can see the results below.

Taxi of Tomorrow Survey Results 02-10-11

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Worst January In 6 Years for NJ Transit, DC Metro Haunted By Bad Decisions, and Columbus Shelves Streetcar, Light Rail Plans

Friday, February 11, 2011

January snowstorms dealt NJ Transit’s its worst month for train delays in six years. "Trains were late six or more minutes 8.8 percent of the time last month, the worst showing since January 2005, when the number was 11.1 percent. Last year, only 4.1 percent of trains were tardy for the same month." (The Star-Ledger)

Pennsylvania counties try to coordinate public transportation for senior citizens and disabled people. (The Patriot News)

Will private plane info become public? Most private plane owners would no longer be able to prevent the public from tracking their flights in real time under a new policy being considered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. (ProPublica)

DC's Metro recently underwent a change in leadership -- but some of the financial decisions it made in the past are still haunting the organization. (WAMU)

A survey showed that 31% of New Yorkers dislike Taxi TV. And the Taxi and Limousine commissioner feels their pain. (NY Times)

Columbus shelves its streetcar and light rail plans. (Columbus Dispatch)

But, elsewhere in Ohio: a bipartisan group of northern Ohio congress members met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss building a high speed rail line along Lake Erie that would link Cleveland with Chicago, Detroit, Toledo and Buffalo. (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

The NY MTA is trying to appease local businesses disrupted by the building of the 2nd Avenue subway with better-designed construction barriers and fencing -- and a sign that reads, "Shop 2nd Ave."(NY Post)

Own your own ferry: a former Staten Island ferry boat, named the Gov. Herbert H. Lehman, is being sold on eBay at a starting bid of $500,000. (NY Daily News)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following:  Climate change is threatening -- among other things -- New York's transit infrastructure. Amtrak sets ridership records. And Nancy Pelosi says we have a several trillion dollar deficit in our infrastructure in America.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

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Transportation Nation

Color-Code Your Ride -- Badge System for NYC Car Services to Cut Down on Illegal Taxis

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Livery decal (courtesy of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) It doesn't have the same worrisome connotations as the Department of Homeland Security's threat advisory system, but the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is implementing a color coding system of its own.

The city says that there are about 50,000 licensed for-hire vehicles (non-yellow taxi) in New York--and countless unlicensed ones. So the TLC has introduced a system in which stickers are placed on the back windows of vehicles. And you shall know the type of vehicle by the color of the sticker:

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Transportation Nation

Experiment in New York with Private Replacement for Public Transit? Notsogood

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A dollar van on Bushwick Avenue

A dollar van on Bushwick Avenue (Photo by Stephen Nessen)

When New York City eliminated dozens of bus routes this June -- the largest such cutbacks in more than a generation, the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission thought it could help by quickly licensing private commuter vans to take over those routes.   But it turns out for whatever reasons -- already low ridership on those routes, public unfamiliarity with the private vans, a $2 charge on top of any connecting subway fares -- drivers are now abandoning those routes.  Matthew Schuerman has the full story, here.

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Transportation Nation

Private Commuter Vans Come to Discontinued Bus Routes

Sunday, September 19, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Five bus routes that were cut last June will get private commuter vans beginning Monday. Three of the routes (the B71, B23, and B39) are in Brooklyn and two Q74 and Q79) in Queens. The private commuter vans are a bit of a gambit for the New York City Taxi and Limosine Commission, which is trying to fill part of the hole left by the bus cuts. So called "dollar vans" --which will actually cost $2 (no metrocards accepted) are privately run, and will pick up passengers at some of the cut bus stops -- and drop off anywhere along the routes. They'll help knit together some communities which otherwise can't be traversed with public transportation, or that aren't served by subways.

The NYC Transport Workers Union had initially opposed the vans, then said it would run it's own, then dropped the idea.

Dollar vans are popular in parts of the Caribbean and in third world locales that don't have public transportation.

More, and a map, from WNYC.

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