NY Courts Back Livery Cab Pickups + E-Hail Pilot

In a double victory for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, two courts ruled in favor of the city administration on June 6.

The first ruling by the state’s highest court upheld the law allowing New York City livery cab drivers to pick up street hails in the city’s four outer boroughs and northern Manhattan. The second ruling by the Appellate Division’s First Department lifted a temporary restraining order from e-hail, a pilot program that would allow New Yorkers to hail yellow taxis using their smartphones.

The yellow taxi industry and taxi lending agencies claimed that a 2012 law backed by Mayor Bloomberg that would allow livery cabs to pick up street hails was unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals in Albany rejected these claims in a 22-page opinion.

“For the first time in modern memory, the other four boroughs of NYC will have taxi service. There has not been the kind of outcry there should have been,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

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Commissioners Corner – May 2013

A little less than 24 hours ago, a state supreme court judge published an opinion that local law 19-533, which requires the TLC to provide a hybrid vehicle option for taxi owners, would and should represent a challenge to theTaxi of Tomorrow project.  As everyone reading this knows, that’s the exclusive arrangement between New York City and Nissan USA to provide the first-ever taxicab that is purpose-designed just for New York City taxi drivers and their passengers.  The interesting thing about this decision is that it was announced about 16 hours before the TLC was poised to approve a rule amendment that would have proactively addressed the court’s 19-533 issue.  In other words, we are in synch with the court’s opinion, and we’re ready to make it right…..taxi owners will have a hybrid option, even after the Taxi of Tomorrow hits the road in October, and the timetable will not be affected.  We are on-track for the Taxi of Tomorrow to hit the road in late October of this year.

So, what does this mean to you, the person reading this?  If you’re a driver who already knows about the Taxi of Tomorrow – and maybe you’re one of the many drivers who sat in on focus groups with Nissan and actually helped them design this cab with YOU in mind – the news is good: the NV200 is coming soon and you will LOVE it.

Taxi king says Bloomberg threatened him with curse-filled rant

Mayor Bloomberg went on a spitting-mad rant against a city cab-fleet boss who won a court victory over Hizzoner’s planned “Taxi of Tomorrow” — vowing to “destroy your f–king industry” when he leaves office, The Post has learned.

A fuming Bloomberg made the threat against Taxi Club Management CEO Gene Freidman at Madison Square Garden’s private 1879 Club during last Thursday’s Knick playoff game, a witness said yesterday.

“It was like Gene had kidnapped his child. He used the f-word twice,” the witness said.

Freidman confirmed the blow-up to The Post, and said Bloomberg’s tirade included the warning that, “After January, I am going to destroy all you f–king guys.”

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Taxi and Limousine Commission offers little help to cabbies ripped off by greedy garages

Cabbie Saeed Ahmed says his fleet bosses overcharged him on lease fees.

It’s hard enough being a cabbie in New York City. The last thing you need is a greedy garage or fleet operator ripping you off.

Take Saeed Ahmed, 33, a married father of three young children.

Ahmed starts work at 5 p.m. and heads home at 5 a.m. when many of us are still at least an hour away from our first cup of coffee.

After expenses, after working a 12-hour overnight shift, Ahmed on average has about $130 left in his pocket.

He has to pay the garage for use of the car and fill up the tank with gas.

Working for a living ain’t cheap.

“If you are driving a cab, you can pay your expenses and live in New York City,” he said. “You can’t save. You can live and support your family and that’s it.”

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Taxi And Limousine Commission Drives Unlicensed “Dollar” Vans Off The Road

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is cracking down on gypsy cabs and illegal dollar vans, and its enforcement team takes hundreds of unlicensed vehicles off the streets every month. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.

So-called dollar vans dart along congested Flatbush Avenue in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn. For about two bucks a ride, these vans provide a quick ride through transit-starved neighborhoods.

Some of the dollar vans are legit, but many aren’t. So every day, Taxi and Limousine Commission officers and NYPD officers tail rogue vans to take them off the streets.

NY1 tagged along on Friday, and not long into the trip, the officers found an unlicensed dollar van. Several women who were headed to Eastern Parkway and Utica Avenue were now stranded far from their destination.

“Everybody needs money in their pocket. So what?” said one passenger.

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In the Candy Cab, Sweets That Delight, and Heal

There are plenty of them. Mr. Khalid keeps the back dashboard of his yellow cab stocked with a layer of candy thick enough to induce envy in the most successful trick-or-treater.

“Turn around; see what else is back there,” Mr. Khalid recently told Legend Wilson, 7, who was riding in the cab with his mother, May Wilson. “There’s a lot of options.”

Ms. Wilson said that her son had plenty of candy at home. “Come on, he can have some; he’s in the candy cab!” Mr. Khalid insisted. “I’ll call you when he has to go to the dentist,” Ms. Wilson said as her son collected a small pile of treats.

Free candy isn’t the only perk of riding with Mr. Khalid, a 37-year-old electrical engineer from Pakistan who has been driving a yellow cab since 1996. He also recently bought a $400 subwoofer that, in his words, makes “your heart go boom,” and invites customers to plug their devices into the speakers. To complete the nightclub-in-a-cab experience, the car is also outfitted with an advanced lighting system that, when activated, flashes fluorescent reds, blues and purples.

“Everybody is depressed, stressed, New York City is not an easy life, so when New Yorkers see all the candies, chocolates,” they cheer up, Mr. Khalid said. “Some people start screaming, they’re so happy.”

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Says CTS Exec: “Safety must rule over bureaucratic pipe dreams and policies.”

Following Justice Peter H. Moulton’s decision and judgement where he finds that the Taxi of Tomorrow rules violate the Administrative Code of the City of New York and are therefore null, void, and unenforceable, David Pollack, executive director of the Committee for Taxi Safety released the following statement:

“We are gratified by Judge Moulton’s decision. We have always maintained that we need taxis that can withstand New York City roadways and traffic. Safety must rule over bureaucratic pipe dreams and policies. As many cars have proven, not every automobile can withstand the difficulties of New York’s streets. The so-called Taxi of Tomorrow has never been built or tested. This administration cannot gamble with the safety of New York City residents. That is why today’s decision is a win for not just the drivers, but our city’s residents as well.”

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CityWide series host Ken Fisher talks with Commissioner David Yassky, Chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. Yassky discusses how technology and demand for increased service has changed the conversations about taxis and livery services, and dramatically advanced their operations. The “Taxi of the Future,” use of smart phone applications and plans for the sale of medallions are all covered in the conversation.

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Taxi trivia coming to a cab near you

The Taxi and Limousine Commission will quiz the city’s 500,000 riders each day on local taxi knowledge. Suggestions for more questions are also encouraged.

The city is offering another cure for cab riders suffering from backseat boredom: taxi trivia.

Sample questions include, “Which mayor is responsible for requiring all New York City taxis to be yellow?” and “What percentage of taxi drivers own their own medallion?” and “How much is a typical yellow taxi medallion worth?”

Riders also can suggest their own questions to the TLC.

“With 25 million viewers watching Jeopardy each week, people’s love of trivia is anything but trivial and so we thought passengers would enjoy testing their taxi savvy right there on the taxi TV screen,” TLC Chairman David Yassky said.

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A.G. Schneiderman Cracks Down On Gas Stations That Engaged In Hurricane Sandy Price Gouging

Attorney General Announces Lawsuits Against Four Service Stations, Settlements With 25 More For Gouging Customers In Westchester, NYC And On Long Island After Storm

Schneiderman: We Will Continue To Protect New Yorkers From Gougers

As part of an ongoing probe of high gasoline prices in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that he is filing lawsuits against four service stations for violations of the New York State Price Gouging statute and has reached monetary settlements with 25 other service stations totaling $167,850.Investigations are pending against dozens of other gas stations.

The lawsuits, filed in Kings, Nassau and Suffolk County Supreme Courts accuse the stations of charging consumers unconscionably excessive prices in the days immediately following Hurricane Sandy last November.In the days after the storm, areas of New York saw some of the largest jumps in gas prices in state history.The settlements require that those gas stations pay penalties to the state.

“Six months ago this week, as New Yorkers were sitting in lines waiting for hours to buy critical supplies of gasoline, some shady business owners were trying to make a fast buck at their expense,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today, we are sending a powerful message that ripping off New Yorkers during a time of crisis is against the law and we will do everything in our power to hold them accountable.”

Gasoline price jumps in the wake of the hurricaneresulted in hundreds of complaints received by Attorney General Schneiderman’s office and showed that prices were changing at the pump, not only overnight but several times a day.

New York State’s Price Gouging Law (General Business Law § 396-r) prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services for an “unconscionably excessive price” during natural disasters. The price gouging law covers New York State vendors, retailers and suppliers. The law specifically says that a price may be considered excessive if there is a “gross disparity” between the prices charged immediately before and after the emergency and the disparity is not attributable to higher costs imposed upon the seller.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylmansaid, “It’s appalling that gasoline stations in the areas decimated by Superstorm Sandy were price-gouging their customers, many of whom were without heat or electricity. We cannot tolerate this outrageous business practice and I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for taking the lead in holding the gas station owners accountable.”

New York State Assemblyman Brian Kavanaghsaid, “Swift justice in this case means that those who broke the law in our time of need will be held accountable. The people of New York deserve better than to be socked by price gougers in their time of greatest need.”

City Councilman Dan Garodnicksaid, “We New Yorkers applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for taking swift and decisive actions to go after gas station owners who ripped off New Yorkers in a time of great need. People in my district were swamped by Sandy and were desperate for aid. Help came from many corners, but was blatantly ignored by dozens of service station owners.”

David Yassky, the chairman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, said, “The transportation provided by taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers  in the days before the MTA was back up and running was vital to our city’s recovery from Sandy, and to see some of these hardworking men and women fall victim to fuel gougers was unjust and frankly offensive.  I am grateful to the Attorney General and his staff for making sure that violators will be held accountable for their actions.”

Livery Base Owners Spokesperson Cira Angeles said, “Livery drivers provided essential services before and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In addition to the problems created by the gas shortage, our drivers suffered the abuse of some unscrupulous individuals that took advantage of this crisis to make an extra buck, making it more difficult for New Yorkers to get alternative transportation. We commend Attorney General Schneiderman for holding price gougers accountable and sending a strong message that natural disasters are no excuse to rip-off our fellow New Yorkers.”

(All prices are for regular gasoline. The spread is the difference between the wholesale price paid by the operator and the price charged at the pump.)

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