Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments
Statement of Basis and Purpose of Rule
The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is proposing a rule that will create two funds to finance improvements in the taxicab and street hail livery industries. The initial goal of the fund that will be created for the taxicab industry is to make it easier for mobility-impaired customers who use wheelchairs or scooters to get a taxi when and where they need it, by increasing the number of wheelchair accessible taxis on the road in New York City from the current 231 to over 7,500. The other fund, to be financed by the surcharge on street hail livery trips, will serve a similar purpose for passengers, owners and drivers of street hail livery vehicles.
The proposed rule imposes a $0.30 per ride surcharge on taxicab and street hail livery trips that will finance these funds. One of these funds, to be financed by the surcharge on taxicab rides, will help medallion owners and drivers to make certain improvements to better serve their passengers, including conversion to accessible vehicles. The proposed rule also amends vehicle requirements to substantially increase the accessibility of the existing taxicab fleet to passengers with mobility impairments. As a result of these provisions, half of the vehicles in New York City’s taxi fleet will be accessible by 2020 (see table below). The proposed rule supplements the TLC’s ongoing initiatives to increase accessibility through the sale of additional accessible medallions and implementation of an accessible taxicab dispatch program.
The proposed rule also imposes penalties for violation of the new requirements.
Specifically, the proposed rules require the following:
Amended Vehicle Requirements
Medallion owners must meet the requirements listed below beginning on the “Accessible Conversion Start Date,” which will be the date when a vehicle is available that meets TLC’s standards for accessible taxicabs and the Administrative Code’s requirements regarding alternative fuel taxicabs. If no such vehicle is available by January 1, 2016, then that date will be the “Accessible Conversion Start Date.”
Unrestricted minifleet medallion owners:
- Where a minifleet consists of two medallions, the medallion assigned to the first vehicle that is scheduled to retire after the effective date of these rules must be hacked-up with an accessible vehicle. Thereafter, at least one medallion (though not necessarily the same medallion) must be assigned to an accessible vehicle.
- Where a minifleet consists of more than two medallions, every medallion scheduled to retire after the effective date of these rules must be hacked up with an accessible vehicle until one-half (or the nearest fraction exceeding one-half) of the minifleet’s vehicles are accessible. Thereafter, at least one half of the minfleet’s medallions (though not necessarily the same medallions) must be assigned to accessible vehicles.
Unrestricted independent medallion owners:
- Unrestricted medallions assigned to vehicles that are scheduled to retire during the second six-month period following the Accessible Conversion Start Date will be placed into a lottery, in which one-half will be selected to be placed into service with an accessible vehicle . As the successive vehicles to which those medallions are assigned reach their retirement dates, the medallions will be assigned on an alternating basis, first to non-accessible vehicles, then to accessible vehicles. The medallions that are not selected in this lottery may be placed into service with a non-accessible vehicle. As the successive vehicles to which those medallions are assigned reach their retirement dates, the medallions will be assigned on an alternating basis, first to accessible vehicles, then to non-accessible vehicles. In this way, a schedule of alternating assignments to accessible and non-accessible vehicles will be established for all medallions placed in this lottery.
- Unrestricted medallions assigned to vehicles that are scheduled to be retired during the third six-month period following the Accessible Conversion Start Date will be placed into another lottery, to be held six months after the first lottery, in which one-half will be selected to be placed into service with an accessible vehicle. The medallions not selected in this lottery may be placed into service with a non-accessible vehicle. As the successive vehicles to which medallions in this group are assigned reach their retirement dates, the same schedule of alternating assignments to accessible and non-accessible vehicles will apply for all medallions placed in this lottery.
- Lotteries for unrestricted independent medallions will continue to be held twice a year until a schedule of alternating assignments to accessible and non-accessible vehicles is established for all unrestricted independent medallions.
Alternative Fuel medallion owners:
- When an accessible alternative fuel vehicle is available, these medallions will be placed on a schedule of alternating assignments to accessible and non-accessible vehicles, in the same manner as unrestricted independent medallions.
Accessible medallion owners:
- Must continue to use their medallions with accessible vehicles.
Owners required to convert under these rules can trade the requirement with any owner who is not required to convert, provided that the vehicles of both owners are scheduled to be retired during the same calendar year.
The proposed rules also contain provisions to prevent owners from transferring medallions without providing a plan to the TLC for continued compliance with accessibility conversion requirements.
New Funds to Finance Accessible Conversions
The proposed rules provide for the creation of the new Taxicab Improvement and Street Hail Livery Improvement Funds, which will be funded by surcharges on both taxi and Street Hail Livery trips. These Improvement Funds will fund grants made to Street Hail Livery licensees and medallion owners who are required to purchase an accessible vehicle, and to drivers who operate accessible taxicabs and Street Hail Liveries.
New Taxicab Improvement Surcharge
The rules provide for a surcharge of $0.30 per taxicab ride, to be divided between medallion taxicab drivers and owners to pay for accessibility costs. A portion of the surcharge, $0.05 per ride, will be reserved for drivers to help compensate for costs associated with accessibility, including the costs associated with additional training related to driving accessible vehicles . Of the remaining $0.25 of the surcharge:
- Owners of all Medallions will pay this amount into the new Taxicab Improvement Fund (TIF). It is anticipated that monies in the TIF will be sufficient to provide, for each accessible vehicle in use with a Minifleet Medallion or Independent Medallion, approximately:
- $14,000 for vehicle purchase, and
- $16,000 to cover additional operational costs associated with accessible taxis, which is comprised of,
- $1,500 per year over four years for estimated additional maintenance costs, and,
- $2,500 per year over four years to cover estimated lost revenue associated with additional days off of the road
- In addition, monies from the TIF will be used to help finance the accessible dispatch program established in chapter 53 of TLC’s rules.
For purposes of calculating the cost to owners of the accessible vehicle conversion requirement, the vehicle conversion cost will be the maximum difference between the cost of accessible and non-accessible versions of the Nissan NV200 Taxi. TLC estimated operational costs by surveying accessible owner-drivers on maintenance needs for accessible vehicles and by comparing 2013 taxi trip data on the number of annual revenue shifts performed between accessible and non-accessible taxi vehicles.
New Street Hail Livery Improvement Surcharge
The rules create the Street Hail Livery Improvement Fund, to be financed by a surcharge of $0.30 per street hail livery ride. The TLC anticipates that the Street Hail Livery Improvement Fund will be used for purposes similar to those of the Taxicab Improvement Fund, that is, assisting owners and drivers to maintain accessibility in the markets served by Street Hail Liveries, and providing grants to facilitate continued accessibility when the TLC’s current grant program for accessible Street Hail Liveries ends.
Driver Training Requirements
All new drivers must receive wheelchair passenger assistance training beginning on June 1, 2014; all current drivers must receive such training within one year of the effective date of their taxi driver’s license renewals.
Penalties for Violation of New Rules
The proposed rule imposes penalties for failure to remit the surcharge as required for both drivers and medallion owners.
These rules are authorized by Section 2303 of the Charter and Section 19-503 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York.