Amnesty for taxi driver fines pushed by Councilman Rodriguez

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez is calling on the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to absolve fines it has levied against drivers that are not related to pedestrian safety, a move he argues is needed amid a “crisis” in the industry.

A former taxi driver himself, Rodriguez said on Monday that he asked the TLC to forgive the fines, noting the plummeting value of taxi medallions as competition increases from e-hail services like Uber and Lyft. The councilman also cited four taxi drivers that he said took their own lives in the last four months.

“We are in the middle of a crisis in the taxi industry that is hurting hard-working New Yorkers, many of whom are immigrants that came to this country in search of a better future for their families,” Rodriguez said in an emailed statement. “It is incumbent upon us as policymakers to employ any tools at our disposal to make sure we’re not abandoning these families to their fate.”

TLC-licensed drivers cumulatively owe between $2 and $3 million in fines, according to Rodriguez’s office. It wasn’t immediately clear how much in fines would remain if the TLC agreed to pardon all violations except ones related to pedestrian safety.

During an executive budget hearing held by the City Council Committee on For-Hire Vehicles on Thursday, TLC chairwoman Meera Joshi said the agency could look into how many drivers owe thousands in fines that are not related to safety, but warned that if a large number of fines was due to safety violations, amnesty would do little to solve the problem.

“Most of our tickets, and certainly most of our tickets that carry heavy fines, are for public safety or illegal activity, so they’re not ones that we would be prepared to give amnesty on,” Joshi said during the hearing. “It would take some understanding of what that category is.”

Joshi added that the TLC does offer payment plans for those who owe a large amount of money in fines, and the agency has started to issue warnings and notices for smaller violations related to equipment.