Monday, May 14th, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, standing with taxi drivers in Inwood, called on the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission to forgive fines issued not related to pedestrian safety for any TLC licensed drivers.
This call comes in response to the critical state of the taxi industry. Over the past fourth months, four taxi drivers have committed suicide while medallion values continue to plummet.
"We are in the middle of a crisis in the taxi industry that is hurting hard-working New Yorkers, many of whom are immigrants that came to this country in search of a better future for their families. It is incumbent upon us as policymakers to employ any tools at our disposal to make sure we're not abandoning these families to their fate," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.
The proposal would benefit the 180,000 TLC-licensed drivers in New York City. Cumulatively, drivers owe between $2 million and $3 million in TLC fines.
TLC Chair Meera Joshi said she would be open to taking a closer look at the council member's proposal. She added that her office has already implemented a policy to warn drivers when they commit minor infractions before issuing a fine. The agency is exploring ways for drivers to be able to pay outstanding fines. The TLC Driver Protection Unit is working closely with drivers to create payment plans and they are not pushed out of the industry because they are not able to pay their fines.
Council Member Rodriguez was a taxi driver himself when he first moved to New York when he emigrated from the Dominican Republic. He has a longstanding history of defending the interests of taxi drivers and fighting to level the playing field for yellow taxis, for-hire vehicles, and liveries. Among many other pieces of legislation and oversight hearings on the industry, the council member spearheaded the efforts to pass Local Law 135 to require FHV bases provided a means to allow passengers to provide drivers with a tip (gratuity) using the same method of payment passengers use to pay for the fare. Local Law 58 changes the tax on the transfer of a taxicab license from 5% of the consideration given for such transfer to 0.5% of the consideration given for such transfer.