By: Akanksha A. Panicker
Taxicabs have long been seen as a staple of the city of New York, with the ubiquitous black and yellow taxicab being a part of most media about the city. In fact, the first taxicab company in New York City was the Samuel’s Electric Carriage and Wagon Company (E.C.W.C.), which began running twelve electric hansom cabs in July 1897.
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (NYC TLC) functions as a city agency that licenses and oversees the medallion taxi and for-hire vehicle sectors. This would also include app-based businesses. Medallion (yellow) taxicabs, green or Boro taxicabs, black cars (including both standard and app-based services), community-based livery cars, commuter buses, paratransit vehicles (ambulettes), and certain luxury limousines are all governed by the TLC.
Taxi and limousine commissions license plates provided by the state of New York are called ‘T&LC.’
[1.0] HOW DOES THE TLC FUNCTION
The TLC Chair and Commissioner preside over nine commissioners’ board during regularly scheduled public Commission meetings. The Mayor appoints eight of the commissioners without compensation, with the advice and approval of the City Council. A plurality vote of the councilmembers of each borough recommends selecting five commissioners, one for each borough. Commissioners are named for a seven-year period. Title 35 of the New York City Laws includes a list of the agency’s legislation.
The TLC chair- a salaried position- heads the agency. The agency’s divisions and bureaus include Uniformed Services, Licensing, Legal, Policy, Public Affairs, Safety & Emissions, among others. Mayor John Lindsay created the TLC in 1971 to regulate the taxi and for-hire vehicle industries. Before creating the agency, the NYPD’s Hack Bureau regulated the taxicab industry, starting in 1925. The bureau supervised ‘hacks,’ which referred to both taxicabs (hackney cabs) and cab drivers (also ‘hack drivers’)
[1.1] DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION
The Commission has the power and duty to set and enforce fair rates to be charged and collected. This means that they are required to prescribe, revise and regulate reasonable rates of fare that may be charged and collected for each type of service rendered.
The Chairperson is mandated under their office to hold a public hearing to assess the current fares’ adequacy and solicits written comment and testimony on all relevant facts. By the end of July of the same year, it is necessary for the Commission to publicly and explicitly state its intention whether it will change fares or lease caps. Public hearings and written comments are helpful in this stage, subject to applicable rulemaking requirements.
The agency’s in-house legal counsel is the Legal Affairs Division. The division offers advice to the TLC’s numerous branches. The Legal Affairs Division establishes organizational regulations, implements deals, enforces rules, and collaborates with the New York City Law Department on lawsuits and other litigation.
[2.0] HOW TO PETITION THE TLC FOR THE ADOPTION OF NEW RULES
Any person may petition the TLC to consider the adoption of rules. However, these petitions are required to be in format-as usually followed by New York City Process Service regulations- to be evaluated. Every potential petition should include [A.] the proposed language for the rule being proposed; [B.] specification of the TLC’s authority to promulgate the rule and its purpose; [C.] petitioner’s argument in support of adopting the rule; [D.] period of time the rule should be in effect; [E.] name, address and telephone number of the petitioner; and [F.] signature of the petitioner.
For consideration, the petition should be typewritten and filed on plain white letter paper by New York City Process Service. However, this above requirement is only in force as long as the TLC has not adopted a form for petitioning a rule’s adoption; the petition must be filed on plain, white letter-sized paper.
Petitions must be mailed or delivered to the TLC offices, marked to the Chairperson’s attention in the typical format of the New York City Process Service. The Chairperson has the authority to evaluate this petition. When a petition submitted in proper form is received, the TLC will have to stamp the petition’s date and assign it a processing number before forwarding it to the Chairperson. At their discretion, they can either deny the petition or present the petition for consideration by the Commission.
The Chairperson has sixty days to present the petition for consideration or deny the petition. In case the Chairperson denies a petition, they should present copies of the petition and the Chairperson’s notice rejecting that petition to the full Commission at its next regularly scheduled session, each following the specifications of New York City Process Service. Thereafter, any member can duly ask the Commission to reconsider the denial of the petition. If no member does so, the Chairperson’s decision stands.
It must be noted that there is no appeal from the Commission’s decision. Any individual may comment on the rules via mail or fax. Electronic communication is also possible, with emailing of comments being provided as an option by New York City Process Service. Additionally, the NYC rules website allows for the option of submitting comments to the Taxi or Limousine Commission.
Commenting on the proposed rules in person is sanctioned only on the precondition that the individual has called the authorized line number and signed up to speak. If this condition is fulfilled or if the person has signed up in the hearing room before the hearing has begun, they are allowed to put forth their proposed changes for up to three minutes.
[2.1] NYC TLC PILOT PROGRAM
The Commission is authorized by the New York City Charter to promote and provide continuous improvement and innovation in the form and configuration of facilities, modes of service, and activity method. Experimentation by pilot projects may deviate from the criteria defined in these Rules for specific reasons and limited time periods.
Any person or entity may propose a pilot program in writing to the Chairperson for purposes of testing and evaluating a proposed innovation. These proposals usually follow a set format with a statement of purpose, detailed description of the innovation, and the costs incurred over its specified time period. As with the petition process, the Chairperson will perform the initial review of all pilot program proposals and later forward the pilot program to the Commission. The Chairperson is authorized to assemble any information, from any source, that they may determine to be useful to the Commission in reviewing the proposal.
[3.0] RECORDS REQUEST – FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW (FOIL) REQUEST
Under the FOIL provisions, an agency is mandated to release substantive rules of general applicability adopted as authorized by law and statements of general policy or interpretations of general applicability formulated and adopted by the same. The law requires disclosure of all non-exempt documents for ‘agencies.’
The records of the state legislature and the state’s courts are often available under laws other than FOIL. However, in Capital Newspapers v. Whalen, a New York court said that a document in keeping a government agency does not have to have a specific governmental purpose of falling under FOIL.
Each agency should maintain and render available for public inspection a record of each member’s final votes in every agency proceeding. The Freedom of Information Law request demands that a request for public documents be sent to the ‘Records Access Office,’ which must be sent by a person, by mail, or by email and complying with New York City Process Service. Every agency is subject to FOIL, provided that it has the ability to receive requests for records from the public and transmit records using email according to regulations of the New York City Process Service and is required to do so.
[3.1.] HOW TO PUT A FOIL REQUEST FORWARD
As per the New York Department of State, where an entity has the capacity to scan a record with the adequate technological tools required to do so without an unnecessary effort additional to taking action to a request in a varied manner, and a request is provided to provide the record by email, the agency should do so to adhere to FOIL.
Each agency has its own promulgated rules and regulations regarding the times and places the FOIL records are available and the persons from whom such records may be obtained. To obtain copies of the records, the fees should not exceed twenty-five cents per copy for New York City Process Service except when a different fee is otherwise prescribed by statute. FOIL does not allow agencies to charge for the time spent searching for the requested records.
Under the New York State Public Officers Law (POL), the public has a right to request government documents, including agencies. All requests for documents must be in writing and can be sent by mail, fax or email to the requisite officer, here being the Records Access Officer according to New York City Process Service requirements.
The records access officer is responsible for overseeing an agency’s speedy answer to public records requests and compliance with New York City Process Service. Furthermore, the records access officer is essential for securing that agency personnel facilitate identifying records sought, render the records readily accessible or deny access in writing, supply copies of records, or authorize applicants to make copies, certifying that a copy is a true copy. If the records cannot be located, the records access officer must certify that the agency does not have custody of the demanded records or that the agency cannot produce the records even following a diligent search, often required by New York City Process Service. However, they may still have the records.
FOIL requests must ‘reasonably describe’ the records sought. It must be known that the reason a requestor may have for asking for copies of public documents is sometimes not considered when complying with a records request. However, to ensure that the request is not dismissed, it must include as must information as possible within the request itself, as usually followed under New York City Process Service. If this requirement is complied with and the agency sees no reason for rejection, the documents requested or an acknowledgment of the TLC request within five (5) business days of receipt of the FOIL request will be ensured.
Appeals may be conveyed to the General Counsel within thirty (30) days of receipt of the records. FOIL also allows agencies to deny requests for lists if the lists that would be obtained would be used for commercial or fundraising purposes.
As the administrator and regulator of taxicab transportation, the TLC develops the broader public transit strategy that regulates taxi and for-hire conveyance services in New York City. To promote public comfort and convenience and take into account the City’s overall public transportation network, the Commission has established an overall public transportation policy governing for-hire transportation services in the City. Thus, protecting public safety and customer rights, granting and controlling permits, establishing and implementing taxi fare prices, restricting taxi lease rates, and managing the selling of taxi medallions are all duties of the department.
For more information on serving legal papers, contact New York City Process Service (800) 774-6922. Representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST. If you found this article helpful, please consider donating. Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us! We also invite you to check out our Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers.
1. Boro taxis in ‘apple green’ color can be hailed only in the outer boroughs (except at the airports) and in the northern part of Manhattan, specifically above 96th street on the east side and above 110th street on the west side
2. Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk currently serves as Commissioner and Chair of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC)
3. Not later than the end of April of every odd-numbered year
4. As established under Section 58-26 of the Rules
5. TLC at 40 Rector Street, New York, New York, 10006-1738
6. By Mail
New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission
Office of Legal Affairs
33 Beaver Street
New York, New York 10004
7. Fax: (212) 676-1102
9. New York Consolidated Laws, Public Officers Law – PBO § 86
An ‘agency’ is: ‘any state or municipal department, board, bureau, division, commission, committee, public authority, public corporation, council, office or other governmental entity performing a governmental or proprietary function for the state or anyone or more municipalities thereof, except the judiciary or the state legislature.’
10. In Matter of Capital Newspapers v Whalen (69 N.Y.2d 246), the Court noted the Legislature’s policy that ‘FOIL is to be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly interpreted so that the public is granted maximum access to the records of government.’
The court said that looking at the legislative history of FOIL; they did not see a ‘content-based limitation in defining the term ‘record’… Moreover … permitting an agency to engage in a unilateral prescreening of those documents which it deems to be outside the scope of FOIL would be inconsistent with [the statute].’
11. Fax: (212) 676-1102
12. Email: email@example.com
NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission
Office of Legal Affairs
33 Beaver Street, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10004
Attn.: Records Access Officer
14. In New York News v. Staten Island (1995), a judge wrote, ‘FOIL does not require that the party requesting records make any showing of need, good faith or legitimate purpose …’
In Daily Gazette v. Schenectady (1999), a judge wrote, ‘An agency’s inquiry into, or reliance upon the status and motive of a FOIL applicant would be administratively infeasible, and its intrusiveness would conflict with the remedial purposes of FOIL.’
15. OTHER EXEMPTIONS UNDER N.Y. Pub. Off. Law § 87
Each agency shall, by its published rules, make available for public inspection and copying all records, except that such agency may deny access to records or portions thereof that:(a) are specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal statute;
(b) if disclosed would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy..;
(c) if disclosed would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations;
(d) are trade secrets or are submitted to an agency by a commercial enterprise or derived from information obtained from a commercial enterprise and which if disclosed would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of the subject enterprise;
(e) are compiled for law enforcement purposes and which, if disclosed, would:i. interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings;ii. deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication;iii. identify a confidential source or disclose confidential information relating to a criminal investigation; or iv. reveal criminal investigative techniques or procedures, except routine techniques and procedures;
(f) if disclosed, could endanger the life or safety of any person;
(g) are inter-agency or intra-agency materials that are not:i. statistical or factual tabulations or data;ii. instructions to staff that affect the public;iii. final agency policy or determinations;iv. external audits, including but not limited to audits performed by the comptroller and the federal government; or
(h) are examination questions or answers which are requested before the final administration of such questions.
(i) if disclosed, would jeopardize the capacity of an agency or an entity that has shared information with an agency to guarantee the security of its information technology assets, such assets encompassing both electronic information systems and infrastructures;
16. § 52-01 Creation and Purpose of the Commission.
Under §§ 2300 and 2301 of the New York City Charter, there will be a nine-member New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (the ‘Commission’ or the ‘TLC’) whose overall purpose will be to continue, further develop, and improve taxi and limousine service in New York City