New York City

Proposed removal of taxi driver protections criticized by yellow cab union

Taxi drivers are up in arms over the potential removal of two-decade-old protections.

Paul Frangipane/Bloomberg via Getty Images

What to Know

  • The proposed rule would remove the requirement of a partition or camera for liveries.
  • Existing rules have required liveries to have a partition or a mounted camera instead since a 2000 murder of a cab driver in the village.
  • Removing the partition or camera requirement puts liveries in equal footing with rules that govern black cars such like Uber and Lyft affiliated vehicles.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is set to hold a hearing Thursday to gain public feedback regarding a rule and regulations change for taxi drivers in the five boroughs.

The TLC has proposed rules to update specifications and requirements regarding in-vehicle camera system (IVCS) for taxis. Should the proposal pass a vote that has yet to be scheduled, street hail liveries would no longer be required to
have a partition or an IVCS.

The proposal would also repeal the $250 financial and licensure penalty that taxi operators currently incur if the commission or law enforcement officials observe that they are not in compliance.

Is this fare?

New 4 obtained conflicting statements from the organizations on both sides of this issue.

The New York Taxi Workers alliance represents roughly 21,000 professional yellow taxi cab drivers in NYC. The alliance has raised concerns about the changes concerned about the new regulations. "

"Crimes against drivers are so prevalent that the general NYPD incident form has a standard box to check off if the victim was a driver," said Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, who blasted the proposal as "dangerous."

"Removing the requirement for partitions and cameras in liveries is going to leave drivers struggling to pay for themselves in the event of an incident," Desai said. "It will leave especially new, mostly immigrant drivers, unaware of a tool they'll need for survival. It's equivalent to giving drivers a car without brakes."

Despite push back from the alliance, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has maintained that their actions in the matter will help, not hurt taxi drivers and the livery industry as a whole.

"We introduced this rule at the request of and with the support of the livery industry itself. The vast majority of livery drivers and operators already prefer cameras to partitions, and if approved by the Commission, the updated camera requirements will make drivers and riders safer" said TLC Press Secretary Jason Kersten.

He added that "the current IVCS specifications are very prescriptive and require technology that is out of date. This creates a niche market in which cameras must be specifically built for TLC-licensed vehicles, and the lack of competition results in high prices and limited availability for substandard technology".

Bad Blood

Back in May, the Taxi Workers Alliance filed a petition in New York State Supreme Court against the commission and a newly approved pilot program that would issue 2,500 "green taxis" street hail livery licenses, which were not previously able to be hailed from the street, specifically within the hail exclusionary zone south of West 110th and East 96th Streets.

Have your say

Members of the public are allowed to weigh in and can submit comments online. The hearing can be livestreamed at 10am Thursday morning.

Contact Us