NYC: Council Bill by Williams and Miller to regulate For-Hire Vehicles

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Shown left to right: Hector Ricketts,President of the Commuter Van Associaition of New York, Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Leroy Morrison, owner of Alexis Van Lines, and Council Member Williams celebrate passage of the Commuter Van Safety Act in 2017.

[New York City]

Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn) and Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D-Queens) have introduced legislation that would close a loophole and allow for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission to regulate large for-hire vehicles and commuter vans.

This legislation, Intro 925, would amend the definition of "for-hire vehicle" to include vehicles that seat more than 20 passengers for the purposes of the enforcement authority of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). The bill would also amend the definition of "commuter van" to make explicit that, for enforcement purposes, the definition of "commuter van" also includes vehicles that seat more than 20 passengers.

Previously, the law had only permitted TLC to regulate vehicles up to 20 seats, allowing some operators to circumvent necessary regulations and licensing processes by adding more capacity to their vehicles. This loophole disadvantaged law-abiding businesses operating in good faith and providing a vital service to communities where public transportation is not expansive.

By skirting TLC enforcement, these large vehicles present a danger to the public as unsafe, unlicensed, unregulated vehicles on the streets of New York City. Expanding TLC's authority through this legislation will force compliance with all existing regulations to the commuter van industry.

In 2017, Williams and Miller worked together to pass the Commuter Van Safety Act. This package of three bills was aimed at facilitating legal and legitimate commuter van operations which increasing enforcement against bad actors.

The act consisted of Intro 570, Intro 860-A, and Intro 861-A, and removed unnecessary burdens from industry operations while cracking down on dangerous and illegitimate operations, increasing penalties for violations.

"In many parts of my district, and across the city, there is a transit desert created by the lack of MTA options," Williams said. "Commuter vans are essential in filling the need for affordable transportation in these communities, and I've been proud to support these services throughout my career. Bad actors attempting to circumvent the law with unsafe large vehicles present a danger to the public and to hardworking small business owners operating with legitimacy. This bill will require everyone to operate within the same regulations and on a level playing field, allowing enforcement against those who violate these rules. I want to thank Council Member Miller for his continued partnership on these issues and for his co-sponsorship of this legislation."

"As representatives of transportation deserts that depend on the valuable service commuter vans provide, Councilman Williams and I have been steadfast in our efforts to promote responsible drivers and operators while ridding the industry of its worst actors," said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. "Introduction 925 will build on the achievements of our 2017 Commuter Van Safety Act by closing the seating capacity loophole that has limited the ability of authorities at TLC to keep riders, pedestrians and motorists safe by keeping illegal commuter vans off the road."

Hector B. Ricketts, President, Commuter Van Association Of New York said: "I applaud Council Member Jumaane Williams to once again submit a bill to protect the licensed commuter van industry, protect pedestrians, other motorists and the riding public. The passage of this bill will enable the Taxi & Limousine Commission to regulate, to enforce the commuter van laws on vehicles with passenger seating capacity in excess of 20. For too long, unscrupulous, unlicensed, uninsured Van/Bus operators have exploited the TLC's inability to address vehicles above 20 passengers and have flooded our street causing deaths, injuries, and loss of revenue for licensed operators. The work of Council Member Williams, his staff and his colleagues must be complemented with a commitment from the Mayor and the TLC commissioner to aggressively enforce when this bill becomes law. Swift passage of this bill will save lives and the licensed commuter van industry."

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