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Posts from the Taxis & Limos Category

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NYC Motorists Kill 2 Pedestrians and Critically Injure 2 Others in 3 Days

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

In four separate crashes since Thursday, at least two people have been struck and killed while walking, and two others were critically injured.

Last Thursday afternoon Giovani Romano hit 56-year-old Alfiya Djuraeva with a Buick while turning left at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Bath Beach, according to the Daily News and WNBC. Djuraeva suffered trauma to her head and torso and died at Lutheran Hospital.

Romano, 74, was issued a desk appearance ticket for failing to yield, but was not charged for the act of killing Alfiya Djuraeva. The crash occurred in the 62nd Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Vincent Gentile.

Early Saturday morning, a BMW driver going the wrong way on 181st Street near Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights hit two people and a pickup truck, then fled the scene, the Daily News reported. A male pedestrian, 46, was killed. The second victim, a 46-year-old woman, was hospitalized. The deceased victim’s name was being withheld pending family notification, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Police charged Jonathan Segura, 34, with manslaughter, leaving the scene, and drunk driving, after Segura turned himself in, the News said.

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Inside the City Hall Uber Traffic Study: Where’s the Beef?

Deliberately or not, the year-to-year VMT differences are impenetrable.

Deliberately or not, the report makes it very hard to discern how the mileage of different traffic sources is changing. Graphic via nyc.gov

What Gertrude Stein said about Oakland is what must be said about City Hall’s new traffic study: There’s no there there.

A research effort that was going to explain how congestion in Manhattan has increased even as vehicle trips to the core have dropped has shrunk to a 12-page report bereft of conclusions supported by evidence.

It may be true, as the report claims, that increases in Uber traffic in the Central Business District (CBD) have been largely offset by decreases in trips by traditional yellow cabs, leading to little or no net traffic impact. But as best as I can tell, that assertion is based on hypothetical 2010 and 2020 traffic estimates plucked from a NYC travel model and interpolated to 2014 and 2015.

Not only is this kind of interpolation volatile and unreliable, it should have been unnecessary since yellows are fully (and competently) tracked by the Taxi and Limousine Commission while Uber was opening its books to the city’s consultant.

The question of Uber “substitution” or “additionality” vis-à-vis yellow cabs was the presumed fulcrum of the $2 million study. Ignoring the wealth of data tailor-made to answer that question, and relying on constructed numbers instead, as the study appears to have done, is dumbfounding.

The City Hall report is almost as opaque in its asserted findings of factors that have contributed to increased congestion. Here’s a rundown:

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Criminal Court Judge Upholds Constitutionality of Right of Way Law

A judge ruled against a motorist who filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Right of Way Law.

Silvia Gallo and her son, former MMA star Jorge Gurgel. Photo: Cage Potato

Silvia Gallo and her son, former MMA star Jorge Gurgel. Photo: Cage Potato

MD Hossain, a yellow cab driver, was the first person charged after the law took effect in August 2014, when he drove a taxi into 58-year-old Silvia Gallo, killing her, while turning into a crosswalk at Madison Avenue and E. 79th Street.

According to a ruling by New York City Criminal Court Judge Ann E. Scherzer, Hossain claimed the law violates the state and U.S. constitutions by “undermin[ing] the very concept of innocent until proven guilty” and “purport[ing] to regulate alleged reckless driving ‘by imposing criminal penalties on a strict liability’ basis.” Hossain also challenged the law as it was applied in his case.

Hossain claimed the Right of Way Law does not require proof of driver negligence, or proof that a driver committed “any other traffic violations,” in order to be held liable for harming people, and therefore improperly shifts the burden of proof to motorists who are charged under the law.

Scherzer ruled that strict liability laws are authorized by the New York State code, and rejected Hossain’s assertion that the Right of Way Law presumes driver guilt.

In fact, to sustain a conviction for this charge the People would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) defendant operated a motor vehicle, (2) that defendant’s motor vehicle caused contact with a pedestrian or cyclist, (3) that the pedestrian or cyclist had the right of way at the time of the impact … and (4) suffered physical injury as a result of the collision.

In addition to the elements listed above, the statute provides that physical injury that was not caused by a driver’s failure to exercise due care does not violate the statute.

“None of [the] defendant’s arguments come close” to demonstrating that the law is unconstitutional, Scherzer wrote.

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A Flat “Congestion Charge” for Taxis and Uber: Yea or Nay?

Would a new surcharge on taxi and for-hire vehicle trips in Manhattan below 59th Street thin out traffic on congested streets? Not much it won’t, according to transportation economist Charles Komanoff, whose traffic analysis has helped shape the Move NY toll reform campaign.

Every year the city’s Independent Budget Office releases a list of options to cut expenses and raise revenue for the city budget [PDF]. This year, the IBO suggests a surcharge of $2.25 for taxi trips and $2.75 for FHV trips beginning below 59th Street (page 88). The difference makes up for the $0.50 surcharge earmarked for the MTA that’s currently levied only on taxi rides.

The IBO’s taxi surcharge idea comes at an intriguing moment. The de Blasio administration is currently finalizing its report on the effect of Uber, Lyft, and other app-based car services on Manhattan congestion. And the Move NY plan still has an opening in Albany in the next few months, as Governor Cuomo and the state legislature search for ways to pay for the MTA capital program and upstate roads and bridges.

On the surface, the surcharge proposal seems to have some appeal. Implementing the fee only for trips starting in the traffic-choked central business district could hypothetically ease congestion by spreading taxi and FHV traffic outward. And adding an MTA surcharge on Uber, Lyft, and similar services could help make up for the $10 million in annual revenue the agency says it has lost due to the rise of e-hail apps.

But Komanoff says a flat surcharge, as opposed to one based on trip length, won’t do much as a traffic reduction strategy, because it privileges long rides over short ones, which would be “both unfair and inefficient.” In addition, a taxi/FHV charge alone, without broader toll reform, would have a marginal effect on congestion. Komanoff put the IBO’s proposal to the test in his Balanced Transportation Analyzer and found that a $2.25 surcharge on taxis would lead to a 1.4 percent increase in traffic speeds — and a 1.8 percent decrease in FHV usage.

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Drivers Killed 3 Seniors This Weekend, Bringing 10-Day Death Toll to 11

The wave of traffic violence that began with the deaths of three people on Halloween continued over the weekend, when motorists killed three pedestrians in Manhattan and Queens. Drivers have killed at least 11 people walking in the city in the last 10 days.

The yellow cab driver who killed 88-year-old Luisa Rosario was charged under the Right of Way Law. Photo via Daily News

The yellow cab driver who killed 88-year-old Luisa Rosario was charged under the Right of Way Law. Photo via Daily News

The three most recent victims were all seniors. At approximately 12:45 a.m. Sunday, Salifu Abubkar drove a yellow cab into 88-year-old Luisa Rosario as she crossed W. 109th Street at Columbus Avenue in the crosswalk with the walk signal, according to published accounts. Abubkar was turning right from Columbus onto 109th, Gothamist reported, as Rosario was crossing 109th from north to south. Rosario died at St. Luke’s hospital.

NYPD charged Abubkar with violating the Right of Way Law, according to the Times. Abubkar’s license to drive a cab was suspended.

The Daily News reported that Abubkar, who is 73, had been at the wheel for 16 hours when the crash occurred, four hours longer than cab drivers are supposed to work during a single shift. As Streetsblog has reported, New York City cabbies are permitted to log more hours per shift than long-haul truckers who drive on interstate highways.

Council Member Mark Levine, who represents the district where Rosario was killed, issued the following statement:

The tragic death of Luisa Rosario is a painful reminder that the grueling conditions many taxi drivers work under aren’t just bad for cabbies, they put all of us at risk. Mr. Abubkar reportedly drove at least 16 hours every Saturday — proof that the City is not enforcing the legal limit of 12-hour shifts. We need to put mechanisms in place to make sure no other New Yorkers are endangered by fatigued taxi drivers exceeding the legal limit for hours behind the wheel.

Rather than raise standards and improve working conditions for cab drivers under Vision Zero, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has made it easier to obtain a TLC license, as cab medallion owners complain about competition from app-based services Uber and Lyft. Under current rules prospective cab drivers are not required to pass a New York City road test. The TLC has taken no action to meaningfully address factors that make driving a cab a stressful, low-paying job.

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NYPD Isn’t Enforcing Mayor de Blasio’s Key Vision Zero Law

Within months of taking office, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law several bills intended to add teeth to his Vision Zero street safety initiative. In the year since taking effect, however, the most important of those laws was barely used by NYPD.

“If

If Mayor de Blasio is serious about Vision Zero, he will direct Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to apply the Right of Way Law as it was intended. Photo: Policy Exchange/Flickr

The Right of Way Law, also known as Section 19-190, made it a misdemeanor for motorists to harm people walking and biking with the right of way. It took effect last August.

The Right of Way Law was supposed to bring an end to the common scenario of reckless New York City motorists hurting and killing people without consequence. The key to the law is that ordinary precinct cops can apply it, not just the small number of specialists in the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad. NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said all 35,000 uniformed officers would be trained to enforce the Right of Way Law, but the department has applied it only a handful of times in the 14 months since it was enacted.

According to data provided by the mayor’s office, from August through December of 2014 NYPD made 15 arrests for Section 19-190 violations, resulting from 21 investigations. In addition, police made one arrest for reckless driving and issued one summons for careless driving.

So far this year, NYPD has arrested 20 drivers under the Right of Way Law, after 41 investigations. Police also issued seven careless driving summonses resulting from those investigations. Twelve investigations are ongoing, the mayor’s office said. In addition, 11 other drivers have been charged under a Right of Way Law provision that applies to failure-to-yield cases that don’t involve injury (more on that later).

The scale of enforcement remains far below the scale of damage caused by motorists who fail to yield.

From September 2014 through September 2015, drivers injured 11,109 people walking in NYC, and killed 140, according to DOT data. Since failure to yield is the primary factor in 27 percent of serious pedestrian injuries and deaths, according to DOT’s 2010 Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan [PDF], it’s all but certain that the vast majority of drivers who violate the Right of Way Law are not charged by NYPD.

Nor is NYPD increasing enforcement. Police averaged three Right of Way charges per month last year, compared to an average of two cases a month in 2015. This suggests that Right of Way investigations remain the province of the Collision Investigation Squad and are not being pursued by precinct cops.

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23,000 Cars on NYC Streets and No One Is Tracking Uber’s Safety Record

Uber accounts for a majority of “black cars” in NYC, but the company’s safety record is a mystery. Drivers in vehicles assigned to city Uber bases have killed at least two people walking in 2015, including 12-year-old Ervi Secundino. Image: WNBC

Uber accounts for a majority of “black cars” in NYC, but the company’s safety record is a mystery. Image: WNBC

With more than 23,000 affiliated vehicles, Uber accounts for 66 percent of all “black cars” in NYC. Crain’s recently reported that Uber nearly doubled its NYC fleet in the past year. Even as Uber adds several hundred cars a month, no one seems to be keeping track of how many traffic collisions involve Uber drivers, making it impossible to assess the company’s safety record.

Drivers affiliated with New York City Uber bases are known to have been involved in two fatal crashes in 2015. In January an Uber driver killed golf pro Wesley Mensing and injured his girlfriend Erin Sauchelli on the Upper East Side. The driver was reinstated by the TLC and Uber after a brief suspension. In May the driver of a car assigned to an Uber base killed 12-year-old Ervi Secundino in a school zone in Harlem. Witnesses said the driver was “flying” at the time of the collision.

After an Uber driver hit four kids and a mother on a sidewalk in the Bronx, Streetsblog asked around for Uber crash data to see how its safety record stacks up against other for-hire services. I checked with the Taxi and Limousine Commission, NYPD, and Uber. No one had an answer.

New York City has 35,528 active black cars — livery cabs reserved for pre-arranged trips by customers who generally pay with an account — and Uber bases account for 23,349 of them, according to the TLC. (Uber also has a luxury limousine base, with 657 affiliated vehicles.) All Uber drivers must have a TLC for-hire vehicle license, which is easier to obtain than a license to drive a yellow cab.

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DA Robert Johnson: Manslaughter Charges for Cab Driver Who Killed Two

Bronx DA Robert Johnson says cab driver Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown. Image: News 12

Bronx DA Robert Johnson says cab driver Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown. Image: News 12

District Attorney Robert Johnson has filed felony charges against the green cab driver who killed two people on a Bronx sidewalk.

Johnson’s office told Gothamist Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he hit 5-year-old Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown, 25, at the Grand Concourse and E. 170th Street on March 20.

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Reports published after the crash said Clark also hit a 55-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, who according to some outlets was Tierre’s mother, as they waited for a bus.

From Gothamist:

According to a spokeswoman for the Bronx DA’s office, Assistant DA Morgan Dolan argued in court that Garcia had been aware of his epilepsy, and had also been involved in a minor crash on December 31, 2014 — a few months before the crash that killed Brown and Clark. The earlier crash took place at East 149th Street and Brook Avenue in the South Bronx last New Years Eve, and resulted in minor injuries to another driver.

Garcia was charged with manslaughter and homicide, Johnson’s office told Streetsblog. Court records say he was arraigned on October 15 and held on $100,000 bond.

The Bronx crash resembles the case of garbage truck driver Auvryn Scarlett, who killed two tourists in Manhattan in 2008 after he went off his medication and had a seizure behind the wheel. Scarlett was convicted of murder, but last week an appeals court reduced the conviction to manslaughter. Prosecutors said Scarlett did not inform his employer or the DMV that he had epilepsy and that he went off his medication so he could drink.

Garcia’s trial is scheduled to begin in January.

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Cab Driver Who Ran Over Kids on Bronx Sidewalk Blames Car

The livery cab driver who ran over four children and a woman on a Bronx sidewalk Wednesday blamed the car he was driving.

The driver, identified as Bialo Daillo, spoke with WNBC yesterday.

… Daillo … said he was heartbroken by the accident. The driver said he stepped on the break [sic] and the car wouldn’t stop. He said he feels fine physically, but is sad for those who were injured.

“I just care about the other people; I’m not bleeding. I’m sorry for the other people,” Daillo said. “Nobody wants that. Nobody wants this. I don’t know what happened.”

Daillo was driving a Toyota Camry. Video posted by WNBC shows him speed toward the intersection of Valentine Avenue and E. Kingsbridge Road, drive over a raised median, re-enter the roadway, jump the curb a second time and crash into a building where a group of children were waiting for a school bus. In the video the brake lights of the car don’t appear to activate until after Daillo is on the sidewalk where the victims were standing.

Three of the victims were a 33-year-old woman and her two kids. Two other children were also hurt. According to WNBC, an 8-year-old girl who was pinned under the car was in intensive care at Jacobi Hospital with a broken pelvis and broken legs.

Daillo, who according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission has held a for-hire vehicle license since 1998, works for Uber. Uber told Streetsblog he did not drive for the company yesterday. The TLC suspended Daillo from driving a cab pending the outcome of the NYPD investigation. Unless he is convicted of a crime or traffic offense, he will likely be reinstated by the TLC.

Immediately after the crash, anonymous police sources told the Post “no criminality was suspected.” No charges were filed yesterday. The NYPD public information office could not provide an update on the case this afternoon.

The crash occurred in the 52nd Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Ritchie Torres.

Mayor de Blasio’s office sent a statement on the crash today, after I asked for one. It did not say the mayor planned to take any action relevant to the crash, such as directing DOT to inspect the site or reform rules that allow cab drivers who harm people to retain TLC licenses.

See prior Streetsblog coverage of yesterday’s crash here, here, and here.

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TLC: Driver Who Hit Children on Bronx Sidewalk Works for Uber [Updated]

Warning: Graphic video

Updates below

The livery cab driver who sped onto a sidewalk and injured a woman and several children this morning in the Bronx was driving a vehicle affiliated with an Uber base, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg said the cab operates from Uber’s Schmecken hub. Fromberg said the driver has held a TLC for-hire vehicle license since 1998.

The driver’s name has been shielded by the TLC and NYPD. The Post reported that he is 57 years old.

Video of the crash, published by the Post, shows a group of kids standing next to a building at 229 E. Kingsbridge Road when the car, a Toyota Camry, enters the frame at high speed, running them over.

The driver told police he “lost control” of the cab, according to the Post. NYPD used the same language to describe the crash to Streetsblog this morning.

Three of the victims were a 33-year-old woman and her two kids. Two other children were also hurt. Injuries to the children included broken legs, head trauma, and chest trauma, the Post reported. FDNY said two of the children were hospitalized in critical condition.

Police had filed no charges or issued no summonses as of this afternoon. Unless the driver is convicted of a crime or traffic violation he will in all likelihood remain in good standing with the TLC.

Drivers working for Uber or driving Uber-affiliated vehicles have killed at least two New York City pedestrians this year, including a 12-year-old boy who was hit in a school zone. A lawsuit stemming from one of the crashes claims the driver was distracted by Uber software. Speed was reportedly a factor in both collisions.

We have a message in with Uber for further details on the driver and the crash.

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