You should know that last month, 21-year-old Samantha Johnson was tragically murdered when she entered a vehicle she assumed to be her Uber. This was a horrible tragedy that occurred in South Carolina and one we cannot afford to happen again.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is now calling for a new bill requiring all For Hire Vehicles such as Uber and Lyft to identify themselves with an illuminated sign so passengers can easily identify their vehicles. This is an interesting idea, but not a new one.
You should know that in February of 2018 I submitted a bill (Int. 0838) that would require exactly what Speaker Johnson now believes to “make sense”. However, last year when I submitted this bill (Int. 0838), along with the package of regulatory requirements for Ubers and Lyfts, this component was pushed back by the Speaker’s staff and ultimately removed.
The idea of identifying For Hire Vehicles with an insignia of their company and an alpha numeric symbol specific to their vehicle was one I believed to be a matter of public safety. We require this of yellow and green taxis, why not all? We have For Hire Vehicles driving around the City and it is incredibly difficult for passengers and police officers to identify them in a sea of civilian cars.
You should know that this idea was opposed by the Independent Drivers Guild, when they testified at the now-inactive For Hire Vehicle Committee, on April 30, 2018. They stated this mandatory insignia would “hurt people who drive part time” by stigmatizing their personal use car. Counsel Laura Popa from City Council central staff also agreed there were concerns after meeting with taxi industry people.
I believe public safety comes before anything, and if this tragedy is to serve as a lesson for us here in New York City then we must bring back my original bill from 2018, bring it to the floor for a vote and protect the 15 million monthly riders who use an app-based taxi service.
This is Councilman Rev. Rubén Díaz Sr. and this is what you should know.