ABOUT PHOTO: Attendees at the Oct. 20 Livery Round Table installation ceremony (L to R): Guy B. Palumbo, executive director of the Livery Round Table, Darlyn Sanchez, President of the United As One TLC Base Owners Association, Avik Kabassa, CEO of Carmel Car Limousine Services, Kane Mamadou, President of the United African Livery Drivers & Base Owners Association, Jose Viloria, President of The NYS Federation of Taxi Drivers, Inc., Tarek Mallah, general manager of Dial 7 Car & Limousine Services, Pedro Heredia, President of the Livery Base Owners Inc., Arthur Grover, President of the NYC Fleet Livery Owners Association, Inc, Robert Hewling, President of NYC Independent Livery Owners Corp., and David Yassky, Commissioner of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
SUMMARY: The Livery Round Table takes a major step in unifying an entire segment of New York City’s ground transportation industry.
NEW YORK — The Livery Round Table —a New York City association of community car service providers representing more than 18,000 NYC livery drivers, 350 base owners and more than 8,000 phone operators and dispatchers — held its installation brunch Oct. 20.
Nine directors and an executive director were installed during the ceremony. The presidents of the seven associations: Livery Base Owners Inc., NYC Independent Livery Owners Corp, The NYS Federation of Taxi Drivers, Inc., NYC Fleet Livery Owners Association, Inc., United As One TLC Base Owners Association, Inc., Board of Livery-Transportation Industry Trades, Inc., and United African Livery Drivers & Base Owners Association, with the two permanent founding members, now constitute the board members of the organization.
After serving as the installing officer, David Yassky, Commissioner and Chair of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission said: “It’s really a blessing to have a strong industry leadership. It makes our job so much easier. Having dealt individually with each organization represented here, I know that, collectively as a roundtable, you will be a terrific partner for us. For four of the five boroughs, it is your industry that is predominantly the service industry for this form of transportation. It is our commitment to work with you to make sure that you can operate smoothly, effectively and continue to provide good value to customers.”
But for Avik Kabassa, the CEO of Carmel Car Limousine Services and one of the founding board directors, this ceremony would not have taken place without a fight. “Seven years ago, when we tried unifying this industry, we realized that all organizations were for unity, but what that actually meant was unity under them. It was never possible. It was only when we moved from unity and concentrated our efforts on fighting common threats, promoting common causes and respecting our differences that in actuality we became united.”
Guy B. Palumbo, formerly an officer with the Luxury Base Operators Association and an executive with Partners Executive Transportation in New York, and now executive director of the LRT, said the TLC played a big role in that unification. “It was really when TLC published the 32 pages of rules last year that everybody went crazy. It was obvious that there was a need to work together.”
Among the legislators present during the brunch was City Council Member and Chairman of the Transportation Committee James Vacca who welcomed the creation of the organization but also expressed his concerns, and New York City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., also chair of the Public Safety Committee, who has worked closely with the for-hire ground transportation industry.
“All of you coming together today is very important,” Vacca said. “I see a lot of livery cabs in the Bronx and I use them. But in the Bronx, and I know it’s also true in other boroughs, I also see many unlicensed cabs and I often have to tell people and warn them about what they should look for before they go into a cab to make sure that the driver is licensed and the vehicle registered. Part of this is education because I don’t want people to confuse your industry with the entity that is not licensed and not regulated which concerns me when it comes to passenger safety.”
Board director Tarek Mallah, also general manager of Dial 7 Car & Limousine Services, said although this installation is a big step forward, there is still much to do. Along that way are the unlicensed vehicle operators who mislead the public, and the need for better recognition for the livery industry:
“We have to stand up for what we believe is one of the most important segments of the industry, nothing less than the doctors, nothing less than the engineers, which provides a service that this city cannot survive without,” Mallah said. “I just want to make sure that we never get called by any official, consumer, passenger or colleague ‘gypsy’ again.”
— Isseu Diouf, reporting for LCT Magazine