Tag Archives: Taxi and Limousine Commission

Astoria resident victim of alleged livery cab hit-and-run


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Rich Feloni

Even playing it safe couldn’t keep Rich Feloni from becoming another hit-and-run victim.

Feloni was walking down Ditmars Boulevard toward the Q69 bus stop on his way to work Tuesday at about 8:50 a.m. when he was allegedly struck by a black livery cab on the corner of 45th Street.

The Astoria resident said that although he had the right of way, he still leaned forward to check on any incoming traffic. The cab, which Feloni believes was speeding and driving close to the parked cars on the street, then struck him as he was looking to the right and threw him off his feet.

“Even if I had the right of way I still leaned forward as precautionary measure. Next thing I know I’m getting whipped to my left and I see this car just making contact with me,” Feloni said. “It was just very reckless driving. This guy was going much faster than any car is driving in the morning.”

While on the floor, Feloni said the traffic light remained red and he noticed the cab slowed down. However, once he stood up, with help from nearby concerned pedestrians, the cab allegedly sped away from the scene.

A man who helped Feloni to his feet was able to jot down four numbers of the driver’s license plate and shared it with police.

Feloni was then taken to Mount Sinai Queens with a fractured ankle and abrasions on his face.

“I tried to be more precautionary, with all these crazy stories you hear,” Feloni said. “I’m glad I even paused.”

Police information was pending as of Wednesday afternoon.

Although The Courier cannot confirm that the cab driver was speeding when Feloni was allegedly struck, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) announced it is currently exploring anti-speeding technology as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero’s goal of zero traffic fatalities.

The TLC is looking at speed governors, also known as mandatory or intervention systems, and other advisory systems that alert drivers when they are going over the speed limit, driving while fatigued or driving recklessly.

A Vision Zero Town Hall meeting has also been scheduled for Wednesday, April 23, in Long Island City at LaGuardia Community College, 31-10 Thomson Ave.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

TLC lieutenant struck, dragged by livery driver


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A routine inspection stop turned dangerous for a Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) lieutenant when the livery driver allegedly sped off, injuring the woman.

The lieutenant and a TLC inspector started following the man’s town car Sunday afternoon when they noticed it had livery cab plates, but lacked the decals needed to legally operate, a TLC spokesman said.

After seeing a passenger exit the vehicle, the two TLC officials approached the driver near Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard about 1:30 p.m., according to the spokesman.

Shortly after the officials began speaking with the driver, he allegedly drove off, striking two vehicles he was parked in between and the lieutenant. The town car then dragged the woman for several feet.

She was taken to Jamaica Hospital where she received several stitches after hitting her head on the ground and was later released, the spokesman said.

The livery cab driver fled the scene and police are still investigating, according to officials.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

NYPD, TLC crack down on illegal vans


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Christabelle Tumola

The joy ride is coming to an end for illegal dollar vans cruising the streets of southeast Queens.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has teamed up with the 103rd Precinct to continue a crackdown, embarking on monthly checks of the area and stopping illegal vans they find running rampant through the streets.

“They take money out of the city’s pockets,” said NYPD Lieutenant Jason Margolis of the drivers, found mostly in Jamaica.

Patrols for the illegal vehicles are typically conducted between Archer Avenue, Sutphin Boulevard, Liberty Avenue and Merrick Boulevard. More times than not, the drivers and their vans are uninsured, in which case the NYPD will write the drivers a summons and impound the van.

Lately, sweeping the borough clean of the illegal vans has proven much more effective than in the past. In 2011, only 31 vans were identified and taken, and this year the number so far totals 1,593 vans.

“We’re doing some huge numbers in terms of seizure,” said TLC Commissioner Jeff Hunt. “We want to make sure that when we go out, we are effective. We don’t want to bring in just one or two.”

Margolis also said that the drivers tend to have a criminal background.

“We’ve found guys with weapons, under the influence while driving, with suspended licenses,” he said. “We’ve had guys fight with us, we’ve had guys run from us. It’s not good for public safety.”

Once a month, an officer from the 103rd Precinct will go on patrol with two members of the TLC, on the hunt for illegal vans. Margolis said the trick is to look at the license plate — if the van’s plates don’t say “LIVERY,” they shouldn’t be providing a taxi service.

The NYPD has received complaints from residents about the danger that the vans pose, but a majority of these come from registered, insured TLC drivers.

“These guys are taking their business away from them,” said Margolis.

The lieutenant also said that the illegal vans tend to come out more so at night.

Allan Fromberg, press director for the TLC, said that the organization is focusing on connecting with community leaders to let them know about the work they and the NYPD are doing, and in turn to also listen to what the community is saying. They have adopted a “zero tolerance” position for the illegal drivers’ violations.

“If we keep doing checks, keep focused on it, we’ll be able to reduce it as much as possible,” said Margolis.

Taxi fare hike starts today


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

The first taxi fare increase in six years goes into effect today.

In July, the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) approved the hike that raises cab rides an average of 17 percent.

Though the initial $2.50 charge for the first 1/5 mile has not changed, the rate for each additional 1/5 mile has gone up from 40 to 50 cents.

Rides between JFK and Manhattan have also increased, from $45 to $52. The surcharge on top of the metered fare and tolls for trips to Newark Airport has gone from $15.00 to $17.50.

Ambulette checks result in summonses, seizures


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) and New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) recently conducted a surprise check of ambulette service providers in Queens and Brooklyn.

During two investigations in the last month, the OMIG and TLC issued more than 15 summonses. Violations included unlicensed drivers and vehicles, insufficient paperwork and lack of proper decals on display. All three of the unlicensed vehicles were seized.

Also known as paratransit vehicles, ambulettes are specially designed vans that transport the disabled, elderly and patients in non-emergency situations. They need to be equipped with a wheelchair lift, and drivers must be trained to help passengers in and out of the vehicle.

An increase in ambulette billings in New York City led to the inspections, said OMIG spokesperson Wanda Fischer. Though this data didn’t specifically indicate that drivers and vehicles were operating unlicensed, it prompted a check for any kind of possible abuse or fraud.

Last month, the OMIG and TLC conducted an inspection along Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills and at Elmhurst Hospital. On that day, they issued eight summonses for unlicensed drivers and an unlicensed van. The vehicles were from a variety of ambulette companies, but the OMIG would not say which companies were included in the review.

The Queens violations prompted another inspection by the OMIG and TLC in July, of the areas on and around Coney Island Avenue and Coney Island Hospital. Both the Queens and Brooklyn locations were chosen because of their proximity to hospitals, but otherwise were selected at random.

“[These checks] will hopefully serve as a warning,” said Fischer. “We are trying to get providers to improve their own internal controls and find their own mistakes and stop them before they happen.”

Canute Smith, owner of Leon’s Ambulette, located in Jamaica, said that many ambulette violations are minor and simple to fix. For example, drivers who are licensed to operate seven-passenger ambulettes, may not update their licenses when they start driving 15-passenger vehicles.

Smith, who said his company’s ambulettes and drivers are properly licensed, added that ambulette compliance checks are nothing new, but wishes that the OMIG and TLC would give notice beforehand.

The OMIG and TLC can foresee doing more reviews together in the future, said Fischer. But she cannot say when or where because the checks wouldn’t be as effective if they weren’t a surprise.

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.

Court allows outer borough taxi plan to roll on


| brennison@queenscourier.com

In a decision the city “hailed” as a victory, a federal court recently ruled to allow a controversial taxi reform plan to roll on.

The ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay after a December decision found the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission’s (TLC) fleet discriminated against people with disabilities, forcing the city to put its outer borough taxi plan on hold.

Advocates for the disabled filed a complaint in January 2011 saying that the new plan was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The complaint against the TLC stated that, “pervasive and ongoing discrimination” against “residents of and visitors to New York City with mobility disabilities who need and want to use New York City medallion taxis.”

Judge George B. Daniels ordered a “comprehensive plan to provide meaningful access to taxicab service for disabled wheelchair bound passengers” and until the plan was approved by the court all new taxi medallions sold or new street-hail livery licenses or permits issued by the TLC must be for wheelchair accessible vehicles.

This decision was stayed on Thursday, March 22, pending an appeal which is set to begin on April 19.

“The stay allows us to continue our work to bring quality taxi service to the four boroughs outside of Manhattan and northern Manhattan, and to persons with disabilities,” said TLC Commissioner David Yassky. “The administration is making historic progress in these areas, and we look forward to building on it.”

The lower court’s order would have prevented implementation of a plan that authorizes the sale of 2,000 medallions for wheelchair accessible taxicabs and establishes a street hail program for liveries in the outer boroughs, 20 percent of which would be wheelchair accessible, the TLC said. The city worked closely with the state to pass new legislation establishing these programs, and is developing a comprehensive plan to provide access to taxicabs for people who use wheelchairs, the agency added.

“We are pleased that the court issued a stay, thus allowing the city to move forward with plans to put more wheelchair accessible taxicabs on the road,” said Michael A. Cardozo, Corporation Counsel.