NYC Council Approves Creation of Black Car & Livery Industry Task Force

For-hire vehicle cap will likely be addressed via "restricted licenses"

The NYC City Council approved the creation of a black car and livery task force today by a 47-0 vote. The bill was sponsored by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, a former livery cab driver himself in the late 1980s while a City College student.

Photo Credit: Pascal Bernardon

The task force is described as follows:

This bill would establish a short-term task force that would study challenges to the viability of the black car and livery industries as well as the impacts of advertising and the viability of advertising as a source of revenue for black car and livery drivers. The task force would be composed of 11 members, including the Chairperson of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, or the Chairperson’s designee, as well as individuals appointed by the Mayor, the Speaker of the Council and the Public Advocate. The task force would be required to hold at least one public hearing and issue a report with recommendations to address the identified challenges. (Int 1865-2020)

For more background on the issue of advertising in black and livery cars please see our post from yesterday.

While it is early days we expect the task force to move quickly and it will be interesting to see (i) who gets appointed and (ii) how newly appointed TLC Chairwoman Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk interacts with City Council and the broader industry, notably drivers. Issues that are set to be addressed will range from the impact of Uber and Lyft on black and livery car bases to the future of the for-hire vehicle cap (often known as the TLC plate cap). Unlike other parts of the country, driver classification is unlikely to come up. The creation of a minimum wage standard last year and the fact that all NYC drivers are commercially licensed has made the employee vs. independent contractor debate much less relevant in NYC.

Lifting the TLC Plate Cap (with a Twist)

As it relates to the TLC Plate Cap, TLCMKT believes a “restricted” for-hire vehicle license will gain traction. A “restricted” for-hire vehicle license would essentially allow non-high volume black, livery and luxury limo car bases (i.e. not Uber and Lyft) to add vehicles based on some sort of demand formula. The twist being those vehicles could only work for a specific base vs. enjoy the “cross-base” freedom of a traditional for-hire vehicle license that can work for multiple companies (i.e. Uber and a traditional black car base). A good example of this would be if a livery base won a new contract that required it to add twenty cars, it could do that by adding vehicles under restricted licenses (subsequently if the contract was lost the base may then be forced to retire those licenses?). As the Black Car News reported in December, Council Member Rodriguez, who also chairs the Transportation Committee, has already shown support for such a measure, including correcting other issues related to the hard license cap.

[Rodriguez] even held a rally outside City Hall just prior to the hearing, calling on the [Taxi & Limousine Commission] to “correct a loophole in the current for-hire vehicles regulations, which is killing the City’s [traditional FHV bases]… to amend the For-Hire Vehicle licensing regulations and across-the-board cap, so that drivers lost to retirement, career change and other common causes could be replaced.” - Black Car News, December 2019

There will undoubtedly be a lot of controversy and much to discuss as more details about the task force are revealed. Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you keep up to date on the task force and all things NYC rideshare.

The TLCMKT Newsletter is written by Dawood Mian, Founder & CEO of TLCMKT. I cover the NYC ridehailing industry and related news. Search TLCMKT for TLC cars, parts, service, accessories, reviews & more. Find great deals at TLCMKT.COM.