NYC TAXI DRIVERS AND TAXI-BASE OWNERS HELD MORNING VIGIL AT CITY HALL AND CALLED FOR THOROUGH REVIEW AND REFORM OF TLC’S ABUSIVE PRACTICES

NYC TAXI DRIVERS AND TAXI-BASE OWNERS
HELD MORNING VIGIL AT CITY HALL
AND CALLED FOR THOROUGH REVIEW AND REFORM OF
TLC’S ABUSIVE PRACTICES
They also honored the memory of taxi drivers 
who recently suffered tragic deaths
A coalition of NYC-based livery base owners and drivers today joined with community leaders and advocates on the steps of City Hall for a morning vigil that raised awareness about the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s excessive fees, abusive enforcement and other unfair practices that are wreaking havoc on the For-Hire Vehicle industry.  They also honored the memory of drivers who have recently died in circumstances that point to a growing emotional health crisis in the city’s car service industry.
“The situation is serious and we need immediate action,” said Leonel Marte, President of the Coordinating Organization for Taxi Drivers (Coordinadora General de Taxistas – CGT).  “The TLC’s abuse and questionable practices are out of hand and we can no longer keep silent.”
Before heading into City Hall to present testimony at the first hearing of the newly created City Council’s Committee on For-Hire Vehicles, the taxi drivers and livery base owners called for City and State officials to thoroughly review TLC enforcement practices and jointly with taxi drivers, livery base owners, plus passenger and driver advocates, seek solutions that are fair and realistic. They called for better training and accountability for TLC officials and revisions to regulations that have enabled the TLC to charge skyrocketing fines and fees with disproportionately short payment windows.
Vigil attendees also cited the TLC’s ineffective hailing prohibitions and the lack of sufficient support for drivers, such as more “For-Hire Vehicle” stands, so that licensed drivers can rest.
Pibe Capellán, of CGT, said:  “The excessive abuse of the TLC against taxi drivers is making it impossible to work.  They are giving fines of $2,000 to $3,000, and up to $10,000, with just a few weeks to pay before suspending licenses. The type of entrapment that they are doing to drivers in our boroughs should be declared unconstitutional.”
Pedro Joaquín Aguiar, President of the Taxi Drivers Coalition of New York (Coalición de Taxistas de Nueva York), said: “At this point, the TLC is creating more problems than it is solving. It is destroying the lives and economic prospects of thousands of licensed drivers citywide, causing tremendous hardship and triggering an emotional health crisis.  Today we also honor the memory of our brothers who have recently taken their own lives because they could no longer take the abuse of the TLC.”
Damián Rodríguez, Executive Director of the Livery Base Owners Association (LBO), said:  “Only working together can we provide safe and reliable transportation to our communities and preserve the thousands of jobs that this industry provides.  The TLC has to embrace its role as a regulator rather than an enforcement and money-collecting agency.”
Cira Ángeles, spokesperson of the LBO, said:  “The taxi industry is vital to keep New York moving, and we need it to remain strong and prosperous for years to come.  But we can’t do it alone.  We call on City and State officials to stand up for our workers, our businesses and our communities. We call on our elected leaders to work with us to rectify the over enforcement and keep our industry economically sustainable.”
The vigil was organized by the Taxi Drivers Coalition of New York, the Coordinating Organization for Taxi Drivers (Coordinadora General de Taxistas – CGT) and the Livery Base Owners Association (LBO).
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