Dear Commissioner Joshi:
Frankly, it is with stunned disbelief that we read about your agency’s decision—as its first initiative coming out of the TLC’s hearing on industry economics—to advocate a rule change allowing Uber drivers, and other TNC drivers as well, to be permitted to accept tips. (http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2017/04/city-hall-open-to-in-app-tipping-proposal-from-uber-backed-union-111284)
As one press report indicated:
“Uber drivers won a major victory Monday: Prompted in part by a labor group’s campaign to force the ride-hail giant to add a tipping function to its app, the Taxi and Limousine Commission announced that it will bring tipping options to the entire industry.” (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20170417/TRANSPORTATION/170419888/new-york-city-forces-uber-to-add-tipping-option-to-its-app)
Uber drivers? You can’t be serious. These workers haven’t been around for more than three years so. From the standpoint of this industry, they just got here. Yet the TLC believes that its first order of business is to ameliorate their working conditions. Your agency’s position is a direct affront to the taxi medallion owners—and green cab permit holders—whose economic well-being statutorily you are supposed to be a steward of.
In addition, the callous and disregarding public statement you gave to the media simply adds salt in our collective wounds—and means to us that you are no longer fit to serve in your current capacity:
“This rule proposal will be an important first step to improve earning potential in the for-hire-vehicle industry, but it is just one piece of a more comprehensive effort to improve the economic well-being of drivers…”
How tone deaf can one public official be? And how could someone so cavalierly clueless of the train wreck that has been created by her inactions continue to serve as Chair of the TLC?
How clueless is this proposed action? It comes directly on the heels of published reports that indicate that taxi medallions have suffered more than 70% devaluation precisely because of the regulatory nonfeasance of the TLC that has permitted the unregulated proliferation of more than 70,000 TNCs onto the streets of NYC. (http://nypost.com/2017/04/05/taxi-medallions-reach-lowest-value-of-21st-century/)
What does this devaluation mean? It means that there are more than 6,000 mostly immigrant medallion owners who are in dire straits facing the loss of everything they have worked hard for over the past five, ten, and more than twenty years. In a city where officials make all kinds of public statements about supporting immigrants, the silence in the face of this coming catastrophe is deafening!
It is time for the TLC, the mayor and the city council to address the mess it has created—a mess that not only has decimated the taxi industry but has also threatened public safety and the mayor’s vaunted Vision Zero program. In two years, we have gone from 40,000 cars for hire to 107,000 with no end in sight. Only officials who are willfully blind could have allowed this unsustainable situation to unfold on their watch. (http://schallerconsult.com/rideservices/unsustainable.htm)
The city’s failures will continue to escalate as more cars are licensed and enforcement of the current rules continues to be nonexistent. It is time for new leadership at the TLC, and if you, Chair, won’t resign, we are calling on Mayor de Blasio to fire you before it is really too late.