Since the Taxi & Limousine Commission published the last Factbook in 2016, the for-hire industry in New York City has rapidly evolved. In keeping with these changes, the TLC continues to improve service, reliability and safety for licensees and passengers.
Among such improvements is the streamlining of our licensing process. The Universal Driver’s License allows drivers to operate freely across industries, apps, and vehicle types. The Long Island City facility was joined by a new State DMV facility in March 2018, allowing licensees to complete multiple transactions in a single visit. Together, these improvements helped decrease the average wait time at TLC licensing facilities 86 percent, from 26 minutes in 2016 to 14 minutes in 2017. TLC also brought the licensing experience online. Our new Upload Portal, TLC UP, provides an easy way for applicants to submit documents and check their status. Additionally, the License Application Renewal and Summons (LARS) website now allows many transactions to be completed entirely online. New facilities, plus the expansion of online capabilities, have decreased the average time between a driver’s application and first trip from five months in 2016 to two months this year.
Additionally, access to transportation has been improved for all New Yorkers. The Accessible Dispatch program expanded citywide in January 2018 and allows passengers to request a vehicle anywhere in the city using a smartphone app, website, or telephone. This, combined with the Taxi Improvement Fund (TIF), which levies a thirty cent surcharge on all medallion and street-hail livery trips, continues to help increase the share of wheelchair accessible taxis. New For-Hire Vehicle accessibility rules will allow more FHV passengers to take trips in wheelchair accessible vehicles.
As the industry evolves, TLC continues to innovate. Pilot programs on vehicle safety, used vehicles, flexible fare structures, and flexible leasing options, allow TLC-licensed vehicles to integrate new technologies and business models that improve service for passengers and drivers alike. In 2018, the TLC commissioned a groundbreaking study on driver income. In partnership with two world-renowned labor economists, this study is the first of its kind to comprehensively examine earnings and expenses in the for-hire vehicle sector, and will help guide future policy-making related to driver income.