–“Hello… good afternoon, to ask for a service”
–“Sorry, at the moment we do not have cars available; call me later”
This is the conversation that hundreds of users of the called “livery” taxisalso known in New York as black cars or limousines now often have calling taxi bases.
The service that industry used to provide, which reached 30,000 vehicles in its golden age, it has been seriously reduced in the last decade, and especially since 2018 when the City chose to freeze the issuance of new public car service plates: now there are only 5,100 drivers available.
This was reported this Monday on the steps of the Mayor’s Office in the Big Apple by dozens of drivers such as santiago crosswho despite being an expert driver, has not been able to provide his services driving livery taxis, for which they asked the Administration of the Mayor Eric Adams to reach out to them and make the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) issue new plates so they can work and get more cars rolling.
“We don’t come here to protest. We come to say we need help. Measures taken in the previous Administration put a limit on livery cars, something that is strangling us because they do not give us the option to replace drivers who have died, or who have retired or retired so that we can get new license plates,” he assured. Joseph Altamiranopresident of the NY Livery Base Owners Association (LBO). “Our industry has been reduced by 80% in the last 8 years and we want to implore TLC to give us more plates so that the vehicles that left can be recovered.”
The livery taxi driver activist assured that the impact on this reduction of cars and “livery” drivers has had a double impact in the lack of employment options for drivers, a large part of them immigrants and Latinos, and in vulnerable communities, where public transport does not reach, which have lost a good part of the service. More than 40% of the calls that enter the “livery” taxi bases are not answeredbecause there are not enough vehicles.
“Our communities are feeling the impact of that downturn, especially those who live in transportation deserts where public transportation doesn’t flow. They are poor people who cannot afford the extravagant prices charged by other taxis or applications to be able to go to work, to the hospital or take the children to school,” added Altamirano. “We are disappearing. A general measure to alleviate congestion, for the entire industry, does not work.”
The “livery” taxi drivers defended themselves in addition to the signs that support the limit and freezing on new plates, supposedly because they are a control for the traffic congression in Manhattan, and warned that their services are provided in almost 70% in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn and off the island’s 96th street. That premise does not apply to the service they provide.
“TLC has the authority to use its power and authorize more plates to our industry. We are hanged with an unfair solution and if there is no immediate remedy, they are going to exterminate us”, added Altamirano.
Cira Angelesdefender of livery vehicles, mentioned that the City must recognize that the “livery” taxi industry suffered the impact of the appearance of applications such as Uber, the pandemic and the freezing in the issuance of new plates, for which he urged that in the coming weeks the delivery of new bearing permits be authorized.
“We are not talking about a specific number. We are talking about 2,500, 5,000… What we want is for them to see the data and understand that if there is a number of calls per day and 40% cannot be answered because we have recently lost 7,368 livery taxis, they will be replenished“, Said the activist, who warned that if the City does not throw the lifeline to the industry, the service will continue to drop and the bases will continue to close.
“Before we had 437 small taxi bases and now there are 317; that is, we lost 120 and what is going to happen is that the contracts that these bases have to move people are going to end up in the hands of large companies because they are finishing the small ones by not being able to replace the vehicles that are withdrawn,” he added. Angels.
Damian Rodriguezowner of the taxi base First Class Car, of Inwoodwho assured that in his business he has seen how they went from having 400 vehicles to less than 100, asked Mayor Adams and TLC to do justice to the taxi drivers and the communities they serve and that they are being neglected due to the absence of cars .
“What we ask is that you help us cover the demand for service that exists in our industry, which is now bigger than before. Right now we do not have enough drivers because TLC does not give license plates, they have been frozen since 2018, they do not sell them and it must be seen that there are many drivers who have retired and there are lost license plates,” said the Dominican. “It is enough to do the analysis in each base and the calls that are not taken and they will understand that the solution is to sell us more plates. We have hundreds of drivers ready to work.”
Joziel Andujardriver of a “livery” taxi, who has been working with a car base for five years, joined the call, because despite having a job, he assures that he sees daily how passengers suffer from the lack of vehicles and how fellow drivers are with their hands tied or rush to operate their cars without permission.
“I see many frustrated people because they are left waiting because there are no vehicles and they complain, and I understand them, but I think the authorities are misguiding this matter because opening the sale of license plates is going to be beneficial for everyone and it is not going to promote more congestion. ”, said the taxi driver. “If more plates are given, more drivers who are standing still, they would go back to doing their job, feeding their families, and those who are choosing to work in the underworld, without a license to do so, which is something I do not support or encourage. , they could be calmer and the passengers safer”.
In their demonstration at the Mayor’s Office, the taxi drivers also insisted that are essential workers as they provide transportation to disadvantaged and marginalized communities and asked to review the findings of a working group that was formed in 2018 to review that industry.
Although the license plate suspension policy sought to curb and regulate the disproportionate proliferation of digital ride-hailing applications, it is having an adverse effect on the traditional ride-hailing industry.
Robert Rodriguezdriver of the First Class Car & Limo Service base in Upper Manhattan, assured that he hopes that the Municipal Administration listens to the voice of taxi drivers and base owners and does the right thing immediately, otherwise the situation will get worse .
“We need action before it’s too late“said the driver. “We want this Administration to fix the damage that we are suffering with those caps.”
Alice Colona user of the “livery” transportation service in Upper Manhattan, declared herself frustrated by the effect that the reduction in cars has on passengers like her.
“It does not make sense for the City to defend that they do not give more authorizations to more cars to provide a service that we need. I don’t want to catch the train anymore because of so much insecurity and so when I want to call so they can send me a taxi, I can’t either because there isn’t… that’s not fair and they should fix it right now; Give those people plates, “complained the user.
And before the demands of the taxi drivers, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) He assured that they are reviewing whether they will give new plates to increase the flow of public vehicles.
TLC is currently considering whether to issue new licenses for for-hire vehicles, in addition to wheelchair accessible vehicles, which are already exempt from the license pause. the Adams Administration. “We are taking into account the concerns of all stakeholders, including drivers, passengers and base owners.”
TLC added that they conduct a review of rental vehicle licenses every six months, the next one will be this August, and clarified that they can grant licenses immediately if the vehicles are wheelchair accessible, as they have been since the beginning of the freezing, four years ago.
At the end of the demonstration, the driver santiago cross he even seemed to resort to divine instances in the hope that TLC will soon unfreeze the issuance of public service licenses so that he can do the little miracle of starting to work as he longs for. “God loves taxi drivers”, read the poster that accompanied him in the call to the Adams Administration.
The NYC “livery” taxi industry in data
- 30,000 vehicles served at its best
- 5% grew each year that industry in the last 30 years until 8 years ago
- 80% has been reduced that industry in the last 8 years
- 40% vehicles were reduced since 2018
- 100,000 families depend on the work of those drivers
- There were 10,515 drivers a few years ago
- 3,366 green car drivers there were before
- 5,079 is the current number of drivers
- 7368 vehicles were lost in recent years
- 437 small livery taxi bases there were a decade ago
- 317 are the current taxi bases in NYC
- 120 bases closed in recent years
- 40% of passenger calls to bases are not answered due to lack of vehicles