Regulations

New York Mayor Approves Permit Cap On For-Hire Vehicles

Martin Romjue
Posted on August 15, 2018
A Mercedes-Benz S550 near the UBS building in Midtown Manhattan waiting for a chauffeured client. Under a new city law, licenses for such vehicles are capped for the next year along with those for TNCs. (Flickr.com Creative Commons photo by Jason Lawrence)

A Mercedes-Benz S550 near the UBS building in Midtown Manhattan waiting for a chauffeured client. Under a new city law, licenses for such vehicles are capped for the next year along with those for TNCs. (Flickr.com Creative Commons photo by Jason Lawrence)

The one-year ban on new for-hire vehicles signed into law by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio Aug. 14 will hurt the luxury ground transportation industry in New York City by seriously impeding the ability of operations to expand in the  largest metro market, said Scott Solombrino, one of the industry’s leading CEOs and a board director of the National Limousine Association.

The city became the first in the nation to limit the number of ridehail and for-hire vehicles from services like Uber and Lyft allowed on the street. ABC7NY article and video here

“We shouldn't be capped because we're not a part of the problem,” said Solombrino, the CEO of the Boston and New York-based Dav El BostonCoach Chauffeured Transportation Network. “We didn't really know it was coming until months ago. It's been talked about for years, but no one ever took it seriously. I mean, it's a crazy scenario. It's a crisis.”

Dav El/BostonCoach CEO and NLA leader Scott Solombrino fears the NYC for-hire vehicle cap could inspire other cities to approves similar regulations or surface transportation taxes. (LCT file photo)

Dav El/BostonCoach CEO and NLA leader Scott Solombrino fears the NYC for-hire vehicle cap could inspire other cities to approves similar regulations or surface transportation taxes. (LCT file photo)

Uber, Lyft, and black car services now have about 118,000 vehicles in the city, which regulates and licenses them through the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission. Of those, luxury-level chauffeured vehicles total just 4,000 vehicles. Taxicabs make up another 13,000 vehicles.

But unlike transportation network companies, also called ridehail or ridesharing services, chauffeured transportation services follow all labor laws, pay more than minimum wage, and create actual W-2 payroll jobs with benefits.

“Our argument is we're the only people to provide real jobs,” Solombrino said. “Our drivers are paid overtime, covered by workmen’s comp, they have Obamacare, they have unemployment insurance — all the things you would want. And the average driver makes as little as $75,000 or up to 100 grand a year depending on the driver.

“Why would you want to affect those jobs versus an Uber driver who drives his grandmother's car on Tuesday part-time? They get no benefits. This is bad and people tend to not be sympathetic to us because what they say is, ‘You people drive millionaires. You're the high-end luxury transportation people.' No sympathy.”

Opposition to the measure has created rare bedfellows among TNCs and luxury ground transportation companies, which are often at odds since many of the rules regulating luxury limousine services don’t apply to Uber and Lyft. That creates unfair competition and undercuts legal, licensed for-hire carriers.

“For this ordinance we are on the same side because we didn't get cut out,” Solombrino said. “If we had gotten exempted, it would finally be an opportunity to rein them in. I'd be happy if they were shrinking and I was getting customers back, and I could add cars to meet that demand. But if I'm capped, there's no benefit for me. All you're going to have is more demand in New York and less supply, and it's just going to drive prices up, not down. So how is that good for consumers? I mean, it’s just ridiculous. So, we should not be a part of the bill, but they're not letting us get out of it.”  

Solombrino believes the measure was spurred by declining subway ridership, environmental zeal, and streets clogged with traffic. “Part of the reason why they're doing it is because subway ridership is so low. They're trying to regenerate that because they're losing millions in subsidies to the subway system. Uber and Lyft have basically made it as cheap to take one of them to work as the subway. In Massachusetts, the subway system had a $100 million deficit.”

The primary fear for chauffeured transportation providers now is that this measure could set a precedent and embolden any politician or advocacy group that has a beef with ground transportation.

“You know what's going to happen next is they will put on a surface transportation tax for congestion in cities like London,” Solombrino said. “And then Chicago, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco will all do the same thing because they got away with it in New York and New York set the standard.”

LCT related article: NYC Council Approves FHV Permit Cap

New York For-Hire Vehicle Cap Explained

The Black Car Assistance Corporation has published a detailed guide on everything you should know about this initiative. Once the 12-month ban on new for-hire licenses take effect, new FHV vehicle licenses will only be issued to wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs). If you have a FHV vehicle license, this change will NOT impact you. Additionally, this change will NOT impact new FHV vehicle applications filed before the laws take effect.

Questions to Expect and the Answers:

Q: Do these laws impact my TLC Driver License?
A: No. This change only impacts applications for new FHV vehicle licenses.

Q: I'm applying for a new TLC driver license. How am I impacted?
A: This change does NOT impact you. TLC will continue accepting and approving applications for driver licenses.

Q: I own a TLC-licensed FHV vehicle. How am I impacted?
A: This change does NOT impact your vehicle license. You can renew your license and replace your current car with any new vehicle that meets TLC vehicle requirements. Only those applying for a new FHV vehicle license are impacted.

Q: I have already applied for a new FHV vehicle license. How am I impacted?
A: This change does NOT impact your application. TLC will review your application and will issue you a license if you meet the TLC vehicle requirements.

Q: I want to apply for a new FHV vehicle license AFTER the laws take effect.
A: You may apply for and get a new FHV vehicle license if your vehicle is wheelchair accessible.

Q: I want to apply for a new FHV vehicle license and use a vehicle that is NOT wheelchair accessible.
A: You may do so, but only applications submitted to the TLC before the laws take effect. To begin that process, your base must submit a base affirmation letter before the laws take effect.

Q: I also own a yellow taxi/commuter van/paratransit vehicle. How will these laws effect those?
A: This change only impacts applications for new FHV vehicle licenses.

Related Topics: Black Car Assistance Corp., BostonCoach, limo licenses, Lyft, New York City, New York operators, New York Taxi & Limousine Commission, regulatory enforcement, Scott Solombrino, TNCs, Uber

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 3 )
  • Anthony

     | about 2 years ago

    This is simply.crazy.... uber inc the 4 billion dollar loosing money has sent uber executives to buy the n.y. officials.. Uber reported another 400 million dollar loss... N.y ftc were the ones that fined uber 20 million dollars for the 5 year old fake news about the new york uber driver earing 90,000 dollars... that was a lie. Uber lease failed Uber china failed Uber jets failed Uber asia failed Uber inc complete failure

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