The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission’s (TLC) efforts to block the deployment of 50 Tesla Model Y taxis from electric transit startup Revel were successful. The decision was finalized in a meeting on Tuesday, where the NY TLC voted to stop issuing new for-hire licenses for electric cars.
The New York TLC’s decision was passed with an overwhelming five-to-one vote. This effectively blocks Revel from launching its 50 Model Y taxis without breaking city rules. During the meeting, the TLC argued that Revel would still be able to operate its Model Y taxis, provided that it buys 50 gas cars first and swaps their licenses for electric cars. This requirement was dubbed by Revel as “the very definition of limiting market competition.”
TLC Chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk doubled down on her stance during Tuesday’s meeting, arguing that the new Model Y taxis could result in congestion. “It is not sustainable to allow an unlimited number of new vehicles to the road in a city that is all too familiar with the choke of traffic congestion. What we will not allow is the opportunity for another corporation — venture capitalists or otherwise — to flood our streets with additional cars,” the TLC Chair said.
Expressing his displeasure at the ruling, Revel CEO Frank Reig criticized the ban in a three-minute speech at the meeting. According to Reig, Revels’ Model Y fleet is made up of are environmentally-friendly vehicles. He also highlighted that unlike Uber and Lyft, Revel hires its drivers as full-time employees with benefits.
“We’re offering exactly what this commission has been asking for for years: fair treatment and stable pay for drivers — who are all W-2 employees with benefits — and a plan to drive EV adoption in the city,” he said.
“The Commissioners sat through almost three hours of testimony on all sides yet asked zero questions and spent zero time deliberating before making a policy decision with profound consequences. The TLC never intended to consider what drivers and New Yorkers had to say, and only cared about jamming through this vote on Primary Day with as little scrutiny as possible,” Reig added after the New York TLC’s vote.
Amidst the TLC’s decision, representatives of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and a number of taxi drivers applauded the commission for its decision to block Revel’s Model Y fleet. The Independent Drivers Guild and groups such as the Sierra Club and the Tristate Transportation Campaign, on the other hand, backed Revel, stating that the TLC’s decision would set back efforts to combat environmental issues like climate change.
*Quotes from the NY TLC’s meeting are attributed to the New York Post.
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