BY IRA GOLDSTEINAs I’ve reported in the past few columns, the commotion in New York continues, although we are making solid progress while fighting for all of our members across the city and beyond.
First up: an update on the situation at LaGuardia International Airport. There is a massive amount of construction underway at the transit hub that has resulted in new operating norms for our industry. I am happy to report, however, that most of the feedback I have received from many within the industry is that it is “not as bad as expected.” Mid-April, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) held a meeting with various companies and trade groups in attendance, where they disclosed their initial observations and statistics regarding the situation thus far. PANYNJ officials reported that the average time for shuttles to arrive is three to four minutes, with five minutes being the average time it takes to transport passengers to the pickup area. Additionally, there is a six-minute maximum for passengers to meet with their for-hire vehicle (FHV) driver at the pickup area. This situation, however, is still developing and I will be keeping a close watch on this issue. It’s still advisable to budget some extra time if you are driving passengers to or from the airport.
We’re also tackling issues—especially regarding TNCs—in Albany. TNCs have been authorized to operate throughout the rest of New York State, and no longer just within the confines of New York City where they have coexisted with other forms of transportation for many years now. The TNC model in New York City, in fact, has often been cited as an example for other cities as a level playing field. While TNCs may now operate across the state, there is an exception for New York City, where they will continue to function as black cars regulated by the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission. Elsewhere, however, they will be regulated by the state, and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles will have oversight. As provided in the TNC Bill, The Black Car Fund (BCF) will be the workers’ compensation insurance provider for all TNC bases statewide, as all of the TNCs meet the requirements for membership with BCF.
“PANYNJ officials reported that the average time for shuttles to arrive is three to four minutes ...Additionally, there is a six-minute maximum for passengers to meet with their for-hire vehicle (FHV) driver at the pickup area.”
The bill was worded in such a way that while TNCs are authorized to operate throughout the rest of the state, individual counties or cities may choose to outlaw them entirely, providing an opt-out option. However, individual counties and cities cannot instead choose to regulate them, as TNCs outside New York City are subject only to state regulation. As for the board of BCF, BCAC continues to maintain the majority of the board, however, there will be an addition: a TNC representative who is to be appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. It’s a good thing for them to get familiar with the complexities of workers’ compensation, as they will better be able to understand it. It is definitely a good thing that they will be represented.
As I discussed in depth in my previous column, BCF has released its new driver app. In the beginning of April, BCF held its app-launch event at the JFK Travel Plaza, a popular driver hangout, which was heavily attended. Members of the BCF team were there fielding questions about the new app, as well as assisting drivers in downloading it, but more than that, they educated drivers on the benefits available to them through BCF. This event was by far the most highly attended driver outreach event of ours yet, yet again topping previous records. I encourage you to follow BCF on Facebook, where you can also see photos from this event.
We also held our BCAC membership meeting on May 17 at the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel in Queens, New York. Since this is quite a tumultuous time for us all (not just those of us in New York City), I feel it is imperative that members of this industry meet regularly to ensure we are all on the same page and aware of the latest changes and ongoing battles. We selected a variety of key speakers to elaborate on some of the most complicated aspects of our industry—an invaluable source of information and guidance, as any BCAC member who attends these meetings will likely tell you. I’ll have all of the details in the next column. [CD0617]
Ira Goldstein is the Executive Director of the New York Black Car Fund and the Black Car Assistance Corp., and is both a TLPA board member and co-chair for its limousine & sedan steering committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.