Tag Archives: David Yassky

New TLC facility to protect JFK passengers from illegal ‘hustler’ vehicles

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) will now have eyes everywhere at John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport.

The TLC and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey unveiled a new satellite enforcement facility at JFK to consistently monitor any illegal “hustler” vehicles trying to get passengers.

“The TLC’s increased vigilance will help protect passengers at JFK Airport by reducing the chances they may unwittingly accept a ride from a fraudulent and potentially unsafe driver pretending to be a legitimate taxi operator,” said Joseph Dunne, Port Chief Security Officer.

Ten to 15 TLC inspectors and supervisors will be at the site during enforcement operations. At LaGuardia Airport, officials have made 192 seizures of illegal vehicles. Since July, there have been more than 800 hustler seizures.

“JFK is an exceptionally active transportation hub,” said David Yassky, TLC Commissioner and Chair. “It is a magnet for illegal for-hire activity. It’s very natural for us to be here and have a permanent home at JFK.”



TLC lets liveries pick up passengers

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Livery cabs have received the green light to begin picking up street hails, a decision that has many yellow taxi drivers red in the face.

The decision was passed 7-2 by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission on Thursday, April 19.

“We’re seeing the birth of a wholly new service today that will allow communities throughout the five boroughs to enjoy and come to rely on the same levels of quality taxi service that are only experienced in portions of Manhattan,” said TLC Commissioner and Chair David Yassky.

Like yellow taxis, the fleet will have a unique color that has yet to be revealed, roof lights and meters.

Six thousand of the 18,000 street hail licenses will begin being sold for $1,500 in June, though a lawsuit filed a day before the vote has requested an injunction.

“The very same city that sold [yellow taxi drivers] the exclusive right to pick up street hails, no longer has the exclusive right,” said Michael Woloz, spokesperson for the

Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents nearly 4,000 yellow medallion taxicabs.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan, charges that the outer borough street hail plan violates the rights of yellow taxi medallion owners and drivers who paid for the exclusive right to pick up street hails in New York City.

“The over 5,000 individual owner/drivers are not wealthy people,” Woloz said. “These are New Yorkers who have invested in an asset that New York City has protected for the last 75 years. The value of the medallion is going to plummet because of government interference.”

Woloz cited more than $5 billion in outstanding medallion loans and the potential for a housing market-like crash if the value of the medallions declines.

Because the bill was passed by the state Legislature without a “Home Rule” message from the City Council, the lawsuit says the bill is in violation of the state constitution. A

“Home Rule” message indicates the approval of the local legislative body over a policy that only affects that locality.

“State senators from western New York had more say on taxi service in Queens than any City Council members,” Woloz said.

If a judge allows the plan to stand, street hails will only be legal above West 110th Street and East 96th Street and in the four outer boroughs. Liveries that solicit street hails in a prohibited area face the forfeiture of their license.

Ride Safe pilot program a success

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Two months after its inception, transit officials have hailed the pilot Ride Safe Livery Stand program a success.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) — both instrumental figures in the stand’s creation — joined with other officials on Thursday, November 10 to celebrate the thriving launch of the first Ride Safe stand in Queens.

The stand — in operation since September — is located directly outside the Jamaica Long Island Rail Road station’s main entrance, at the intersection of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue.

The cylinder-shaped, bold, bright yellow booth features an on-site dispatcher 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and two Queens Village Car Service vehicles that wait nearby for passengers.

“This stand is a key transportation hub, serving the core of Jamaica’s vital commercial district,” said David Yassky, commissioner and chair of TLC. “The ability to offer passengers the high-quality, safe and convenient taxi-like service they need and deserve in an area that is historically not served by yellow taxis is an innovation.”

The stand is designed to put an end to illegal pickups by unauthorized cabs, which officials say put riders in potential danger.

“The presence of aggressive taxi hustling around the Long Island Rail Road/Air Train station created serious quality-of-life problems and contributed to the public’s misperception of downtown Jamaica,” said Carlisle Towery, president of GJDC. “The institution of the Ride Safe program has transformed the area around the station.”

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department (MTAPD), illegal livery activity has drastically decreased in the vicinity of the Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue intersection and also on 91st Street since the stand’s inception, which is also attributed to stepped up enforcement.

Of the 1,180 summons distributed for illegal livery violations this year, Captain Kevin Kieran of the MTAPD said many of the drivers were driving without licenses or with suspended licenses.

“This station has such a tremendous concentration of passengers that it was really attracting a lot of illegal activity,” Yassky said. “It’s always dangerous when passengers are getting into a car, and they have no idea if the car is properly licensed or insured. There’s a risk there. We’re making sure people can get into a vehicle, get where they’re going safely, and do it knowing that the driver has been screened, and that the car has been inspected and is properly insured.”

So far, transit officials say the stand has provided almost 3,000 safe and convenient livery rides.

“The stand is a good idea,” said commuter Bharat Chhugani. “I’ve seen people who have been overcharged by double the amount, especially if they’re not from around here.”

The cost of the ride is computed by mileage, and drivers must provide detailed receipts to passengers, which include the vehicle and license number in case of a problem.

“We can move around this area with comfort and with ease now,” said Jacqueline Boyce, chair of Community Board 12. “I’m just thrilled, and I look forward to seeing this being expanded and seeing this community keep getting the service it deserves.”

The stand is under a one-year term, although it may be extended or terminated early depending on circumstances.

There are four other Ride Safe stands throughout the city, including two in Brooklyn and one at the Staten Island Ferry Street George Terminal, according to Allan Fromberg, deputy commissioner for public affairs.