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Friday, June 14, 2019

Mayor de Blasio Announces Extending FHV Caps to Protect Hardworking Drivers, Increase Their Pay & Reduce Cruising by Empty Cars in Manhattan

New York City Hall Press Office Photo

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio announced a new plan by the Taxi and Limousine Commission to extend the cap on For-Hire Vehicle licenses announced last year, and to create a second cap on how long FHV companies can let their vehicles cruise empty without passengers in the Manhattan core, below 96th Street. 

Taken together, these caps are expected to cut congestion, increasing speeds in the evening rush hour by up to 10 percent. As companies reduce the time drivers cruise without a passenger, these policies have the potential to increase net driver hourly pay as much as 20 percent during the busiest times. They build on the unprecedented, first-in-the-country actions the City has taken to protect hardworking drivers and rein in congestion. You can read the report that informed these policies here.

This comes after last year’s driver pay standard, which increased earnings at the four major high-volume FHV companies: Uber, Lyft, Via and Juno. The standard, which went into effect earlier this February, guarantees drivers a per-trip amount that will net at least $17.22 an hour, and if they make less on any give trip, the app companies must pay the difference. 

After the rule took effect, between February 1 and May 19 drivers earned an additional $172 million, based on per-trip pay earned before and after the rules took effect. Before the standard went into effect, drivers only made the minimum pay standard on 4 percent of trips, now they make that or more on 100 percent of trips — equivalent to an annual pay increase of $10,000. More than 80,000 FHV drivers are now benefiting from increased wages.

“For too long, app companies have taken advantage of hardworking drivers, choking our streets with congestion and driving workers into poverty,” said Mayor de Blasio. “That era will come to an end in New York City. Last year we took the first step, and this year we’re going further with new restrictions on how many empty cars these companies can have on our streets. That means higher wages for drivers and less congested streets for our city.”

Extending the Cap on FHV Licenses: The initial cap on FHV licenses was initially temporary, set to run out in August 2019. Now, TLC will pursue rulemaking to extend this cap, with vigilant monitoring to ensure outer borough services remains fast and reliable. The cap will exclude wheelchair accessible vehicles and all-electric vehicles, to accelerate the creation of a greener, more accessible FHV fleet. Rules extending the cap will be noticed in June so it can take effect before the temporary cap expires in August.

New Cap on Cruising in the Manhattan Core: TLC will create a new rule that limits the amount of time an app company’s drivers can cruise in the core without passengers. Currently they cruise a remarkable 41 percent of the time without passengers, increasing congestion. This cap would require companies to reduce cruising to just 31 percent of the time vehicles are on the road. Strict penalties will ensure compliance, and TLC retains the right to suspend or revoke a company’s license to operate in New York City if they fail to comply.

This cap will be in effect weekdays 6 AM to 11 PM and weekends 8 AM to 11 PM. Companies will be required to decrease cruising to 36 percent by February 2020, and reach the 31 percent target by August 2020 in order to avoid sanction.

These caps complement other actions announced by the de Blasio Administration to help yellow taxi drivers this week, including:

  • Waiving Medallion Fee: Medallion owners no longer have to pay $1,100 every two years to renew their medallion. TLC will immediately stop collecting the fee, and we will work with the Council to pass Council Members Levine’s legislation.

  • Driver Assistance Center: The City will create a new driver assistance center within one year that will have on-site staff to screen drivers for various issues and then connect to relevant services including advocacy, financial counseling and debt restructuring assistance, referrals to health services and screening for HRA benefits.

The City is doing more to fight discrimination in the industry. TLC launched the Office of Inclusion five months ago. Since then, there has been robust outreach to civil rights groups, the driver industry, and the broader community. TLC has assigned a dedicated data analyst to work with TLC’s Prosecution and IT divisions to review patterns of potential systematic discrimination in the FHV sector to inform TLC Prosecution enforcement. TLC is also looking at how to make the process of filing complaints more efficient, and will educate the public about how to make those complaints.

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