Tag Archives: Taxi & Limousine Commission

De Blasio signs package of Vision Zero bills at fatal Queens accident site


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Diana Robinson/Mayoral Photography Office

A Woodside intersection, where a fatal accident involving an 8-year-old student occurred last December, became the site where a package of traffic safety bills were signed in hopes of a brighter and safer future.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was joined by other elected and city officials as well as family members of victims of traffic fatalities, signed 11 bills supporting the city’s Vision Zero initiative on Monday at P.S. 152, less than a block from where third-grader Noshat Nahian was fatally struck by a tractor trailer in December.

“We’ve been taking aggressive action from that day forward, because we understand these collisions injure almost 4,000 New Yorkers a year, and kill over 250 New Yorkers in recent years,” de Blasio said. “And that’s been the minimum. And that’s been an unacceptable reality each year.”

Before signing the bills on June 23, de Blasio paid a visit to the completed Department of Transportation (DOT) project at Northern Boulevard and 61st Street, which includes two pedestrian islands, enhanced crosswalks and parking regulations.

Later this year the busy roadway, between 62nd and 102nd streets, will become one of the first Arterial Slow Zones, lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph.

The package of bills includes requiring the DOT to study left turns and come up with a report every five years; to respond to and address major traffic signal issues within 24 hours; to produce a report on work zone safety guidelines on bridges; to install seven Neighborhood Slow Zones this year and in 2015; and to annually lower speeds to 15 to 20 mph near schools. The bills also require the agency to study major roadways and produce a report every five years.

The bills also refer to “Cooper’s Law,” named after 9-year-old Cooper Stock who was fatally struck in Manhattan, which requires the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) to suspend drivers involved in a crash where a person is critically injured or killed and where a driver receives a summons for any traffic-related violation. The package also included the establishment of penalties for vehicles that fail to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists, and requiring the TLC to review crashes with critical injuries or death.

“The passage of today’s bills will bring us closer to making Vision Zero a reality in every neighborhood in the City of New York,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “These laws will also will help reduce reckless driving and speeding through our local neighborhoods. Traffic safety is an issue our city takes seriously. Through this legislation, we will make our streets safer for all pedestrians, motorists and cyclists alike.”

The bills also address prohibiting stunt behaviors on motorcycles.

“We have promised the people of this city that we will use every tool we have to make streets safer,” de Blasio said. “Today is another step on our path to fulfilling that promise, and sparing more families the pain of losing a son, a daughter or a parent in a senseless tragedy.”

 

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Bayside couple sues TLC after husband accused of being illegal cabbie


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A Bayside couple is suing the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) for $3 million, claiming that agents racially profiled them after they wrongfully busted the husband for being an illegal cab driver, according to published reports.

Dan Keys, 66, was driving his wife, Symone Palermo, 53, to her job at Bob’s Discount Furniture store in Flushing in May 2013 when the incident occurred, reports said.

TLC investigators reportedly pulled Keys over after he dropped off his wife in their Lincoln Town Car and accused of him of operating an illegal taxi. Palermo was sitting in the back of the vehicle because the front passenger seat was wet.

Keys tried to explain that the passenger was his wife, and when Palermo arrived to try to help, they were both issued summonses because the car is registered in her name, according to published reports. They also seized the vehicle.

The suit, filed in Queens Supreme Court, claims that Keys was only stopped because investigators “observed an African-American male driving what they thought to be a white female,” the New York Daily News reported.

The suit is also claiming that the city and TLC violates civil rights because they “instruct its employees to target and single out vehicles operated by minorities with white passengers, the Daily News said.

A judge dismissed the summonses, but the couple did not get their car back for eight days, when they won their case, according published reports.

The TLC declined to comment pending litigation, reports said.

 

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Mayor de Blasio reveals details of Vision Zero plan to put end to traffic fatalities


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

The success of Vision Zero is in the hands of the city’s pedestrians and drivers, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Last month, de Blasio, together with the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Taxi & Limousine Commission, and Department of Citywide Administrative Services, launched an interagency task force to implement his Vision Zero plan to prevent traffic related deaths.

The initiative aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

After the interagency group spent the past month developing new strategies to make city streets safer, de Blasio released his administration’s “Vision Zero Action Plan” Tuesday at P.S. 75 in Manhattan. A student from the school was struck by a vehicle two years ago and still suffers complications from the accident.

“We don’t accept a status quo in this town that leads to so many people losing their lives that we could have saved,” de Blasio said. “As a parent I know that particularly in this crowded dense city, the danger is lurking at all times for our children. That’s why we have to act, we have to act aggressively. We won’t wait to act because we have to protect our children; we have to protect all New Yorkers now.”

Since the beginning of the year more than 20 lives have been lost on city streets and last year there were 286 traffic fatalities compared to 333 homicides in the city, according to de Blasio.

The initiatives within the “Vision Zero Action Plan” include increasing enforcement against speeding, reducing the citywide “default” speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, and expanding the use of speed and red light enforcement cameras.

The plan will continue to develop borough-specific street safety plans, redesigning 50 locations each year, expand neighborhood “slow zones,” and enforce stiffer penalties on taxi and livery operators who drive dangerously. The interagency group is expected to continue overseeing and coordinating all the changes.

“A life lost is a life lost – and it is our job to protect New Yorkers, whether it is from violent crime or from a fatal collision on our streets,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said. “We are going to use every tool we have – and push to get the additional tools we need – to prevent the needless loss of life.”

Bratton also said the NYPD would focus efforts on speeding and failure to yield violations, which make up 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the city.

“But it’s about much more than speed bumps and issuing violations, it’s about all of us taking more responsibilities,” de Blasio said. “Our lives are literally in each other’s hands, our children’s lives are in each other’s hands. Today we begin the work to living up to that responsibility.”

 

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De Blasio takes on traffic deaths with ‘Vision Zero’ initiative


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

With 11 people, including seven pedestrians, killed in traffic accidents in just the first two weeks of the New Year, Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for a stop to what he calls an epidemic.

De Blasio and his administration is launching an interagency working group, together with the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Taxi & Limousine Commission, to implement a “Vision Zero” plan and make sure another life is not lost.

The mayor’s “Vision Zero” initiative aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

“Our top responsibility is protecting the health and safety of our people,” said de Blasio. “From tougher enforcement to more safely-designed streets and stronger laws, we’ll confront this problem from every side – and it starts today.”

De Blasio gathered with local officials, family members of victims of traffic fatalities and representative from the city agencies Wednesday to announce the working group at P.S. 152 in Woodside, just less than a block from where third-grader Noshat Nahian was fatally struck by a tractor trailer in December.

The working group will come together to implement the mayor’s plan by developing a report,  due to the mayor by Feb. 15 and released publicly, that will serve as a blueprint for the mayor’s “Vision Zero” plan for safer streets through the city.

The report is expected to have “concrete plans” to dedicate sufficient number of NYPD resources and personnel to prevent dangerous actions such as speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians; annually improve close to 50 dangerous corridors and intersections to “discourage dangerous driving;” greatly expand the amount of slow zones across the city; and pursue a traffic safety legislative agenda in order for the city to position red light and speed enforcement cameras based on safety needs.

“This will be a top-to-bottom effort to take on dangerous streets and dangerous driving,” said de Blasio. “We aren’t going to wait and lose a son, a daughter, a parent or a grandparent in another senseless and painful tragedy.”

De Blasio also said that as of Thursday, Jan. 16, speed cameras which have been installed on city streets will begin issuing tickets to enforce speed limits.

The NYPD will also be implementing additional and more severe enforcement against traffic violations, according to de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Since taking office Bratton has increased Highway Division personnel by 10 percent and has a goal to increase the staff by 50 percent.

 

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Green cabs could be coming to south Queens


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of TLC

Green cabs could now be driving down south in the borough.

A representative from the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) will be making a stop at the next Community Board (CB) 10 meeting on Thursday, December 5 to explain the new Boro Taxi procedures, rules, and the program’s presence in the region moving forward.

Betty Braton, CB 10 chair, said the outer-borough cabs coming to the community could either be a benefit or a disadvantage depending on “how it rolls out.”

“I would believe on the positive side, it provides a safer way in the outer boroughs for people to do street hails,” she said. “On the downside, we already have an existing problem with livery cabs parking. I would think it would become problematic if the green cabs decide to take up parking spaces or just cruise constantly in the transit hubs.”

Boro Taxis, similar to livery cabs, are affiliated with a base and may take dispatch, flat-fare calls. However, similar to city yellow cabs, they can also make metered, hailed pick-ups.

Currently licensed livery bases apply for an opportunity to affiliate the street-hail liveries, which is then processed and approved by the TLC. Two sites in South Ozone Park already got the green light for green cabs, according to the TLC.

Resident Jesus Garay made a request on the Boro Taxis’ website for a base at the cross section of Woodhaven Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard, so cabs could serve Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park.

 

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LIC, Astoria best bet for hailing green cabs


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Taxi & Limousine Commission

Queens taxi riders have the best shot at hailing a green cab in Long Island City and Astoria.

Nearly 900 new apple green cabs roam the northwestern edge of the borough, according to data from the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC).

City officials said more than 1,000 borough taxis have hit the streets since the first fleet of its kind rolled out in early August.

“Borough taxis have quickly proven themselves to be immensely popular, with almost 300,000 rides having already taken place,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who proposed the plan in 2011. “The new taxis have been a hit with both riders and drivers, and they will become an increasingly common sight in communities that previously lacked taxi service.”

LIC and Astoria, near the western part of the Ravenswood Houses, have 223 wheelchair-accessible green cabs and 675 standard ones, TLC data shows.

The area also includes the strip of land bordering the East River, the Queensbridge Houses and a portion of the neighborhood north of Queens Plaza and west of Northern Boulevard.

“They are all over the place in Long Island City and Astoria,” said passenger David Gutierrez.

“They’ve just become part of the community.”

The 31-year-old LIC resident, who cruises to Astoria in a green cab for business almost every day, said he has no trouble spotting one.

“I like the green color,” he said. “You definitely can’t miss them.”

Neighborhoods with the lowest number of green cabs include Flushing, Far Rockaway, Forest Hills and Middle Village, according to TLC data. There is at least one street hail livery base in each of those regions but no licensed green cabs listed.

Heather Bartone of Astoria said Steinway Street is a “green cab central,” but she is often left stranded in Flushing, where she works.

“I rarely see any in Flushing, so instead I have to take a regular taxi back home,” said Bartone, 41.

City officials announced Tuesday a new website called www.borotaxis.org, created to let New Yorkers suggest new green cab locations.

The new taxis are licensed to pick up street hails anywhere in the city, except in certain parts of Manhattan and at airports.

They charge the same fare as yellow cabs and must also have taximeters, a TLC permit number, credit card machines, roof lights and rate information printed on its front driver and passenger doors.

The TLC said it has already finished selling its first 6,000 borough taxi licenses allotted this year.

However, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has been a staunch opponent of the new taxi plan, going so far as to say he would fire Taxi & Limousine Commissioner David Yassky, according to reports.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the commission has not yet cracked down on pockets of illegal hail activity as promised.

“It seems the green cabs are just sitting outside train stops with livery cabs that are still illegally picking up passengers,” he said. “That wasn’t the deal.”

A TLC spokesperson said the commission would soon beef up enforcement after more than doubling its field strength over the past two years.

 

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Taxi fares to increase this fall


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

Passengers will be dishing out more green in yellow taxis come September.

The Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) today approved rate hikes in city cabs by a 6-2 vote with one abstention.

It is the first increase in six years.

A ride will cost passengers approximately 17 percent more after the increase, the TLC estimates.

Initial fares of $2.50 will remain the same, but each click of the meter will jump from 40 cent to 50 cents.

The fixed price between JFK Airport and Manhattan will also climb $7 to $52.

The extra cash will go to the drivers to cover health care and disability.

 

New $1 Flushing buses may be illegal


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A battle is brewing in downtown Flushing between recently emerged $1 buses that are taking away customers from a cutthroat competitor, and authorities who say the new set of wheels could be operating illegally.

Hordes of passengers lined up single file on 41st Avenue and Main Street for a $1 trip to Chinatown in Manhattan on Monday morning, July 9. Some said the new “big bus” was a more convenient, cheaper and roomier ride than an already established and authorized commuter van service across the corner.

“Before, in the small bus, the service was very bad. They don’t let us eat and drink, and they drove very fast,” said Michelle Dhu, 26. “It wasn’t safe.”

The smaller commuter buses are operated under Flushing Commute Van Management Corp. and can only hold up to 19 passengers. It is licensed by the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) to shuttle people to Chinatown, Brooklyn and Elmhurst.

Fees for the commuter bus were as high as $2.75, Dhu said, before the company dropped the price to $1 to keep up with its newest rival.

Still, Dhu said throngs of people opted to swap services when the new ride rolled into town less than a month ago.

Passenger Claire Chen said she rode the minibus for six months, touting its faster excursions, and originally defended the company when she told The Courier it was not fair for the bigger bus to encroach on its settled turf.

But Chen, 21, quickly jumped ship and leaped off the line during the interview, when a collector asked her for double the price, straying from the latest $1 promise posted on nearby signs.

“If they just stayed the same price, I would have stayed with the small bus, but it keeps changing,” she said.

Councilmember Peter Koo said the large buses pose severe problems for both pedestrians who cannot pass through the large crowds waiting on line, and for drivers on the street whose vision is impeded by the large buses.

“We contacted all the agencies. In the very near future, they will do something to stop them,” Koo said.

A police source said the 109th Precinct has issued summonses to the buses for obstructing traffic. One bus, the source said, even crashed into the NYPD’s SkyWatch observation tower located outside of the Flushing library on 41st Avenue and Main Street.

The new $1 bus loads passengers in a “No Standing” zone, but vehicles considered commuter buses are allowed to do so. However, authorities said the new buses — which carry more than 50 passengers — are likely not commuter buses and are violating more than just traffic laws.

According to TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg, under New York City law, commuter van services are only permitted to operate vehicles of up to 19 passengers. Larger vehicles exceeding that limit fall under the jurisdiction and licensing of the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), he said.

DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said city agencies are initiating an investigation and will pursue relevant legal or regulatory channels, including the possibility of state or federal enforcement.

The new bus service is said to be operated by New Oriental Tour, Inc., under the ownership of Tony Luo, who could not be reached. Drivers and fare collectors on site also declined to comment.