Ydanis Rodriguez, the chair of New York City Council Transportation Committee, addresses the crowd of bankers and medallion owners. He has been a loyal ally of the traditional taxi business.
The Observer has been reporting on a secret meeting scheduled by taxi kingpin Evgeny “Gene” Freidman to meet with bankers who finance the buying of medallions that enable yellow cabs to pick up street hails. The business is under assault from Uber and other ride-sharing apps, which Mr. Freidman accuse of skirting the voluminous regulations that he and other medallion owners are forced to follow.
The secret meeting, as first reported by the Observer, was closed to the press with an undisclosed guest list, was scheduled for this morning at the University Club. One high-profile guest was to be Ydanis Rodriguez, the chair of New York City Council Transportation Committee, who has been a loyal ally of the traditional taxi business.
The plan for this morning’s meeting was thrown into doubt with the revelation, also first reported by the Observer, that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would be announcing a lawsuit this very morning against Mr. Freidman. The lawsuit accuses Mr. Freidman of failing to live up to terms of a 2013 settlement reached with the AG’s office and of continuing to shortchange drivers, particularly those who collect fares via credit cards.
According to a source with knowledge of the Attorney General’s plans, tomorrow Eric Schneiderman will file suit against New York City taxi magnate Evgeny “Gene” Freidman, the single largest holder of medallions in the city.
In late 2013, Mr. Freidman settled a suit brought by Mr. Schneiderman that alleged that Mr. Freidman’s companies consistently overcharged drivers and imposed improper fees that violated TLC rules. The improper fees were things like “shift excess time surcharge” fees of $3.50 per shift that Mr. Freidman charged drivers who leased his vehicles or medallions.
That settlement called for restitution of approximately $750,000 plus a penalty of $500,000. Tomorrow’s expected action by the Attorney General will allege that Mr. Freidman has failed to live up to the reforms he agreed to in the settlement and continued some of the practices that the first suit alleged were illegal. After settling the suit in 2013, Mr. Freidman signed an “Assurance of Discontinuance” or AOD with the AG’s office. That’s basically an agreement to cease doing things the Attorney General contended were illegal so a resumption of those activities is prevented both by the agreement and because the activities themselves are prohibited.
Cab passengers who don’t wear seatbelts in the front seat of a taxi could face a fine under state legislation City Hall will push for in Albany, officials said.
Riders could also be penalized if they have a child under 16 without a seatbelt.
The recommendation on changing state vehicle law will come in a report on Vision Zero that will be released by City Hall later today. Continue reading
The city is launching a new “enforcement squad” at La Guardia Airport to put a dent in the large number of illegal taxi hustlers preying on vulnerable tourists, The Post has learned.
The crackdown won’t come cheap: $1.2 million the first year and $1 million each succeeding year for 20 inspectors and the handheld devices they’ll need to issue summonses.
But officials say they expect business to be so brisk that taxpayers should recoup at least $1 million a year from fines and tow fees.
Meera Joshi, the city’s taxi chief, said there’s good reason to step up enforcement at La Guardia to match a previous effort at JFK.
This could be your magic moment.
Dreamboat actor Channing Tatum is trying to track down a black backpack he left in a cab near Times Square – and he needs your help.
The hunky heartthrob is hoping a lucky New York City denizen may have been next in the car and recovered the rucksack. He crowdsourced his request, begging for help on Twitter.
“Dropped off at 42nd street in New York City and left my bag in the cab!” he wrote to his seven million followers around 8:45 a.m. Saturday.
Less than 30 minutes later, the “Magic Mike” stud had already created an email address for anyone with a lead on the bag.
The “Foxcatcher” didn’t say what was inside – or what was in store for whomever finds it. But social media users let their imaginations run wild.
Uber’s hacks are a “pack of predatory drivers racing to win fares with their eyes on their phones instead of the road,” according to a new lawsuit filed against the car-service company.
Its drivers accept fares via a smartphone apps, but the company also encourages riders and hacks to text and call each other, according to court papers filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
When an e-hail is made, drivers are given about 15 seconds to respond or they’ll lose the job to another driver. This makes it more likely that they’ll rush to the job, rather than pull over, the suit says.
The city forbids hacks from driving while using a cellphone.
“Uber’s business model unleashes in this city thousands of drivers encouraged to engage in conduct that is not only unsafe, but unlawful,” said Lisa Solbakken, a lawyer representing XYZ Two Way Radio Services and Elite Limousine Plus.
“It is a race to the next fare.”
Gene Freidman is locked in litigation with Citibank, which is trying to seize many of his medallions.
One of New York City’s largest taxi fleet owners is asking for a bailout.
Evgeny Freidman, known as Gene, said in an interview Thursday that the taxi industry, like the financial industry, was too big to fail. He would like the city to guarantee taxi medallion loans, which would induce banks to extend more credit to fleet owners like him, and he compares this approach to the federal government’s actions to save large banks and insurers in 2008.
“I still see Bernanke saying, ‘I hate A.I.G.; I don’t want to give them any more money, but I have to,’ ” he said, referring to the former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and the large insurer that was bailed out in 2008.
Mr. Freidman’s problem is not unlike that of any homeowner who bought real estate in the early part of the century thinking prices could only go up. In New York, medallions, the license that is required to operate a yellow taxi, are fixed in number, and their price rose for decades because of increased demand and restricted supply.