City Council Holds Hearings On For-Hire–Vehicle Bills
Following up on its showdown with ridesharing giants Uber and Lyft last month, the New York City Council held hearings this week on a host of potential bills that would further regulate the for-hire–vehicle industry. The bevy of proposals included laws that would provide benefits to drivers, including healthcare; and the creation of an office of inclusion at the Taxi and Limousine Commission, designed to monitor drivers and make sure they are not turning away passengers because of their race or ethnicity, or because they are looking to travel from Manhattan to the outer boroughs.
In a statement before the meeting, New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai called on the council to move quickly to provide additional relief to drivers.
“[These] bills could be a starting point, especially for owner-drivers in need of immediate relief, and could put an end to the obscene predatory lending Uber and other app drivers face. The real change will only come once these bills are implemented through Taxi and Limousine regulation so the City Council should act on them immediately,” Desai said.
The day of hearings also focused on a study of taxicab medallion values. One proposed bill would provide debt relief to medallion owners, while another looked to study the value of medallions. The City Council is also looking into creating driver-assistance centers and providing financial education to drivers struggling to make ends meet.
Uber and Lyft have pushed back against claims that they are opposed to regulation, and have offered to make several changes to their operations. Uber has also proposed a small fee on for-hire–vehicle rides, which would be placed in a fund to help medallion owners who are struggling to pay mortgages because of the decline in the value of medallions.
Riders Alliance Releases Subway Delay Report
Signal problems caused rush-hour subway delays every single day in August except for Thursday, Aug. 23, according to a new report released by the Riders Alliance. The transportation advocacy group conducted the survey to highlight the critical need for “far-reaching modernization.”
“When the entire month of August has only one morning rush without signal delays, that’s a blinking red light that it’s past time to modernize our subway system,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance. “Every one of those signal malfunctions throws thousands of people’s daily lives into chaos. In a functional transit system, that would be a rare event that merits an apology. In 2018 New York, it has become routine. The days of stop-gap measures have to be over. It’s time for Governor Cuomo and members of the state legislature to pass congestion pricing and fund the MTA’s Fast Forward plan, so we can rebuild the transit system and end the pain for millions of New Yorkers who rely on it every day.”
NYC Transit President Andy Byford has said it will take five years to upgrade the infrastructure to a point where all signals are operating efficiently and commuters won’t experience regular delays.
In Queens, riders of the 7 train experienced nine days of delays in August, with eight caused by signal problems. The E train only saw five days of delays, while the A train saw 12 days and the C train saw 11 days of delays in the month. The F had nine days of delays, five due to signal problems.
Ferry Service Has 92 Percent On Time Rating
Service on the six routes run by NYC Ferry logged a 91.9 percent on-time performance record, according to a quarterly public report released by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) this week. The ferries, which stop in Rockaway the East River, Astoria, South Brooklyn, Soundview and the Lower East Side, have served nearly 6.5 million riders since launching in May of 2017, and currently average about 18,000 riders on a weekday and 28,000 riders on a weekend.
“We’re incredibly proud to have launched six routes and have served 6.5 million riders since the system launched in May 2017,” said NYCEDC president and CEO James Patchett. “We’re slashing commuting times, connecting residents to major job centers, and reuniting New Yorkers with their waterfront and helping them discover other neighborhoods. We look forward to exploring ways to bring ferry service to more communities.”
NYCEDC is currently undertaking a ferry feasibility study to look at ways to improve the service and provide alternatives to commuters and tourists. The first stage of the study will entail conversations with community board members and elected officials. That will be followed by technical studies of water depths, travel times and population density, with the goal of determining where additional stops might improve transportation through the five boroughs.