TLC Tells City Council It’s Looking to Get Dangerous Cabbies Off the Road

Here are more highlights from Thursday’s City Council transportation committee budget hearing.

  • Conan Freud, chief operating officer for the Taxi and Limousine Commission, said the agency is working on driver education, implementing technology, and increasing enforcement to improve driver safety. Freud said the TLC is looking to incentivize safe driving and remove unsafe cab drivers from the road “before tragic events occur.” Many safety initiatives won’t require extra funds, and the TLC should have figures on those that will “relatively soon,” he said.
  • Freud said 9,600 illegal cabs were seized in 2013, a big increase over prior years. Freud said the agency now has “unlimited” impound space, which allows for more vehicle seizures.
  • Freud told committee chair Ydanis Rodriguez that TLC operations have not been hampered while the agency is without a commissioner.
  • MTA representatives said the agency is communicating with DOT concerning Vision Zero, but offered no commitment to augment its existing bus safety measures. Spokesperson Lois Tendler told Council Member Steve Levin that the MTA considered rear wheel guards like the ones installed on buses in other major cities, but decided against using them. “We think they don’t work for us,” Tendler said, as the guards don’t help with “the type of crashes [the MTA has] been seeing.” At least 10 pedestrians and cyclists have been killed by MTA bus drivers in the last 12 months, including Marisol Martinez, who was hit in a Brooklyn crosswalk on March 1.
  • Meanwhile, the MTA is testing four systems to help reduce subway track fatalities, and is studying platform doors. Tendler said the agency would be open to Rodriguez’s proposal for a “Vision Zero for subways.”
  • The MTA plans to have Select Bus Service on Harlem’s M60 line in the spring. MTA and DOT are working on identifying future routes. Mayor de Blasio’s pledge to bring 20 SBS routes online in the next four years is “an ambitious goal,” Tendler said.
  • The timeline for completion of East Side Access is 2021 to 2023, and the projected budget is $10.1 to $10.7 billion, MTA reps said. In other mega-project news, the MTA is counting on the Second Avenue Subway to relieve crowding on the Lexington Avenue line, as adding more trains would not be possible without upgrading to communication-based train control. CBTC is expected to be operational on the 7 line by 2017.
  • Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said DOT has installed 4,300 pedestrian countdown clocks, and 4,500 more are on the way. Trottenberg called the timers a “fantastic safety improvement.”

Pete Donohue of the Daily News spoke with Trottenberg after the hearing about the possibility of a Citi Bike rate hike. Story here.

  • red_greenlight1

    In two years in Crown Heights I have seen exactly 2 gypsy cabs get pulled over. One guy was let go with a ticket after he got out of the car and argued with the cops.The other guy was told to step out of the cab and was walked towards the hood of a cruiser. I don’t know what happened since I didn’t have time to stand around and watch. Illegal cabs seem to operate with near impunity here in Brooklyn.

    Of course the MTA is refusing to retrain drivers and use wheel guards. I wonder how much of their aggressive driving is the result of strict adherence to their prescribed schedules. Also why won’t wheel guards work for them?

  • Joe R.

    The streets here are in such poor condition that the wheel guards would be damaged scrapping along the ground after the rear wheels go into a pothole. It would end up being a maintenance headache for the MTA. Half the time the guards would be so damaged that they might actually make things worse for someone who falls under bus in that the sharp edges would chew the person up.

    Obviously the long term solution is smoother streets so we can use things like wheel guards but I’m not holding my breathe for that to happen. In the 51 years I’ve lived in NYC, I never remember a time when the majority of streets were in good repair.

  • Daniel

    I can’t imagine how being cheewed up by roughened plastic could be worse than going under the rear tires of a bus. But this also doesn’t appear to be proven technology so perhaps the money could be better spent on other safety improvements.

  • Joe R.

    Cameras which allow the driver to see all the blind spots around the bus would be a good start.

  • sbauman

    “The streets here are in such poor condition…”

    How many guards has the MTA tested to assert that they don’t last in NYC?

    Every MTA bus is equipped with splash guards behind each wheel. They are required by law. They seem to be intact on every MTA bus I’ve seen. Why should you suppose that guards before the rear wheels would be destroyed when those behind the wheels don’t exhibit such behavior?

    “I busted two GPS mounts and probably a dozen old-school
    speedometer/headlight mounts (this is back in the 1980s/early 1990s) on
    my bike…”

    Bicycle hardware is designed to be light weight because the rider has to push it. It need last only a single race. Racers bikes are stripped and rebuilt with new parts every night of a stage race. Mountings and bus hardware are not under as severe a weight restriction. They can be made to last for a 12 year/500K mile life span – even under the MTA’s non-maintenance practices.

  • sbauman

    Automobile safety exclusively concentrated on collision avoidance before Ralph Nader. The improved automobile driver survival rates for the last 50 years are due more to making collisions survivable than to avoiding collisions. Airbags, shoulder harnesses, crumple zones, etc. have saved thousands of lives. They did not help drivers avoid collisions.

    Similarly the biggest return in reducing pedestrian deaths will come from making car/pedestrian collisions less lethal to the pedestrian.

  • AnoNYC

    Or/In combination with some type of proximity alert sensors.

    Would probably be more efficient than a driver’s eyes.

  • AnoNYC

    Are these wheel guards proven to be effective in the most common collision types between pedestrians and bicyclist in NYC?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

More Highlights From Yesterday’s Vision Zero Hearing

|
Yesterday’s four-hour City Council hearing on Vision Zero featured testimony from families of traffic violence victims, discussion of NYPD’s enforcement priorities, and Cy Vance’s office weighing in on how district attorneys should be involved in traffic justice. But not all of the testimony fit neatly into a theme or narrative. Here are some of the highlights […]

Let’s Raise Standards for Cab Drivers, Not Race to the Bottom

|
As cab medallion owners complain of competition from Uber and Lyft, the Taxi and Limousine Commission appears to be making it easier for applicants to acquire a hack license. On Sunday the Times reported that the TLC hack license exam will have fewer questions on geography, since drivers can use GPS to navigate the city. […]

TLC Puts Data Recorders and Cameras in 10 Cabs for Safety Tech Pilot

|
The Taxi and Limousine Commission officially launched a pilot program Tuesday that outfits TLC-licensed vehicles with electronic equipment intended to promote safe driving. For the Vehicle Safety Technology Pilot Program, TLC installed data recorders, driver alert systems, and cameras in 10 TLC-licensed vehicles, including yellow taxis, green cabs, and livery cabs. Based on the TLC press release, it seems the […]

No Mention of Cab Safety Tech as TLC Commish Outlines Vision Zero Budget

|
Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Action Plan contains a number of initiatives to improve cab driver safety, including “black box” technology to monitor cabbie behavior. TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi told the City Council in early May that the agency has issued RFIs for a telematics pilot program, but she didn’t mention the program during testimony at Thursday’s council […]