For Immediate Release: June 8th, 2015
Contact: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
NYC Taxi and FHV Drivers Caravan to Albany to Protect Full-Time Jobs
Drivers Call on Albany Lawmakers to Vote Down TNCs
Tuesday, June 9th
Caravan Send-Off: 7:30am AT 31-10 37th Avenue, Long Island City (NYC)
& 8:30am AT 2500 Bailey Avenue, Bronx
Caravan around State Capitol Building & Press Conference
12noon AT Front of Capitol Building, State Street (Albany)
Hundreds of New York Taxi Workers Alliance members, taxi and for-hire-vehicle drivers, are holding a motorcade to Albany to oppose legislation to carve out a special place in state law for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), allowing companies like Uber to dispatch directly to unlimited numbers of private motorists with personal cars and insurance. The model has been banned in 40% of the countries where they claim to have presence, and increasingly, across the United States. The proposed bills would make acceptance of TNCs a requirement in every part of the state, even if the local authority wants to ban them. Cities would also be prohibited by state law from requiring TNCs to have collision insurance at all times, process security background checks for drivers through New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services, meet the state’s “reasonable and just” law for quoting fares, or even inspect their cars on the streets. Since the cars and drivers would not be considered commercial, the state and municipalities could also not charge fees and taxes commonly collected from taxis and for-hire vehicles.
Although state law makers have a provision in the bill which says TNCs are not authorized in NYC, the country’s biggest market for regulated taxi service, the bill still exempts TNCs from state law that gives authority to local governments to regulate taxi and for-hire-vehicle industries. The bills also exempt TNCs from the long-standing reciprocal agreement between New York City and Nassau, Westchester, Rockland and Suffolk Counties to set minimum requirements for taxis and for-hire vehicles and drivers that would cross county lines. Local authorities would be required to allow TNCs even if NYC is not. NYC would be required to accept drop-offs by TNC drivers with lower standards than licensed NYC taxi and for-hire-vehicle drivers.
“Riders will lose all kinds of protection - safety, insurance, accessibility, and a fair price. For drivers, this (letting Apps dispatch directly to private motorists with personal cars) is the biggest threat to full-time work in this industry. Drivers need several Apps to put together a whole day’s income, because the companies depend on part-time labor and a saturation of vehicles. Already in NYC, we’re seeing incomes drop for drivers from all the segments – yellow, green, livery and black car, including Uber drivers. If the TNC bills pass, the streets will be flooded and no one will be able to move around or earn proper day’s earnings for themselves,” said Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of NYTWA. The taxi industry in San Francisco, where the Silicon Valley are headquartered, is in danger of virtual collapse, with fares down over 65% overall. The city’s regulator warned that passengers in need for wheel-chair accessible service could be hurt the most in the shift to App-based hailing.
“We can’t afford to lose our jobs,” said Nancy Soria of Green Taxis of New York. “We do this for a living, it’s not a gig. Already, the streets are crowded everywhere, not just in Manhattan.”
Lal Singh, a 30-year veteran, said drivers are working longer hours in their 12-hour shifts but seeing less earnings. Taxi owner-drivers who own the medallion have to earn back $5,000 in monthly payments before making a living for themselves. “It’s hardly possible right now. And the new cars keep coming. Our future is very uncertain right now, very dark.”
Several states, such as Hawaii, Michigan, West Virginia and Kansas have banned the service, and several others like Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania are holding off on legislation. Drivers are hopeful that New York will follow.