Thursday, October 28, 2021

NELA Director NELA Executive Director Rick Szilagyi Durham, N.H. — A few years ago, the New England Livery Association (NELA) Board of Directors decided to work toward establishing separate, state-by-state funds to finance contracting with lobbyists and other professionals.

In Connecticut, the association was unable to rally members to develop a legislative fund for the state. In Rhode Island, meanwhile, they did so—though NELA’s legislative effort ultimately failed. But in Massachusetts, the association was successful in developing a state legislative fund: The fund is ongoing today, and NELA was successful in passing new legislation in the commonwealth.

In August 2016, the Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed NELA’s TNC legislation into law. One of the results of the legislation was a new procedure, mandating that all TNC drivers in Massachusetts be subjected to a background check by the state’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU). TNCs can—and do—still conduct their own version of background checks; since the spring of 2017, their approved drivers must also be checked by the MA DPU. According to statistics from the department, the results have been consistent: 10% of drivers approved by the TNCs have been screened-out due to the DPU checks.

NELA Another aspect of that 2016 legislation was the creation of a fund: the Transportation Infrastructure Enhancement Trust Fund is financed by TNCs remitting 20 cents for every TNC ride in the commonwealth for five years, with 5 cents of that set aside for the taxi and livery industries. Doing the math, those nickels amount to $3M dollars in Year One; assuming TNC rides remain stable in number, that’s $15M over the full five-year period.

How is the money to be used? The legislation does not prescribe any details. A firm has been contracted by the state’s finance and economic development authority to develop a plan. We have held initial conversations with the firm, and more will transpire over the next few months.

What can be expected? The fund is real. Should operators all expect a check? No, but operators should expect that NELA is on top of this, and using professionals to guide them—just as they did to get the legislation passed in the first place. The association’s goal is to see that this money is used as intended: to support the efforts of taxi and livery in Massachusetts.

Persistence works. NELA not only has but also will continue to win battles on behalf of its members. Now is the time to strengthen its base: Ask fellow operators who are not members to consider joining the NELA today. Additionally, all of members with business interests in Massachusetts should consider supporting the fund.

Email NELA Executive Director Rick Szilagyi at rick@lexian.com or call 866-736-6352 for more information.

Visit nelivery.org for more information about NELA.

[CD0419]