By José Viloria


pparently, the strategy of the mayor of New York City is to win the support of organizations that represent people with disabilities, and I congratulate him for such a noble gesture. What I cannot digest is that Bill de Blasio uses undemocratic methods to achieve his goal, and I explain.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), led by Meera Joshi, submitted a bill that would require the companies operating under that office to make 25% of the trips in vehicles prepared to carry people with disabilities. That is, this agency wants the private sector to operate with vehicles similar to those used by the MTA, with the difference that those vehicles are owned by the state, and our vehicles belong to the private sector.

The most important companies and organizations in the city have been in constant conversation with Commissioner Joshi, trying to maintain an adequate service with the understanding that the problem is not exclusive to our mayor but, at the same time, as companies we must be careful with the costs of operations.

The only thing we ask the authorities is freedom to design the program and time to develop it.

Apparently, Commissioner Joshi had as her agenda to order how it had to be done and when it should be approved. Obviously, this fell like a bucket of cold water to the participants, because we interpreted that there was no intention to negotiate, but to impose.

Honestly, I think our group was more generous than the city's representatives hoped and made them think they could get better returns with less investment.

From this moment on, the capacity of the taxi industry is put to the test, which, knowing how to put aside its normal differences, has to unity to guarantee its permanence in the market.

The best thing that could happen is for the city government to become aware of the real problem of people with disabilities, to accept the industry's commitment not only to centralize specialized vehicles in order to optimize the service, but also that our industry commits to maintaining a standard of quality service, which, if not honored, would give the government the authority and reason to act. u

—José Viloria is an advisor to the Federation of Taxi
Drivers and CEO of the
bilingual newspaper
‘NY Taxi Voice’