New York State legalized Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) and, in response to questions we received, the following FAQs have been published.

1. Why did the County not “Opt Out”?
Although the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) received the “opt-out” legislation from County Executive Astorino, the BOL lacked the requisite number of votes to reach the necessary majority required for the county to be able to “opt-out” of the statewide legislation enacted by Governor Cuomo on April 10, 2017. It is important to note that despite a Tri-County effort by Westchester County, Nassau County and Suffolk County, along with the Livery Industry Council of Westchester and the Business Council of Westchester, Article 44-B of New York Vehicle and Traffic Law in Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2017, Part AAA, Section 2 failed to establish our three respective Taxi and Limousine Commissions (i.e. WCTLC, NCTLC and SCTLC) as the regulatory authority over the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), as was afforded the NYCTLC. Instead, the statewide TNC framework designated the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to be the governing authority over the TNCs.  To date, no county or city with a population over 100,000 has opted out of the legislation and, as such, no TLC has the authority over TNCs in New York State with the exception of the NYCTLC.

2. What is the incentive for an operator to register with the WCTLC rather than another agency (i.e.: NYC TLC, CT livery or NJ livery)?
The WCTLC offers a value proposition to the FHV operators with lower fees that provide the enhanced benefit of being able to provide point-to-point trips within Westchester County.  Additionally, the FHV operators that are permitted by the WCTLC are in complete compliance with the state’s reciprocity law and, thereby, they may provide one-point trips in all reciprocal jurisdictions. This point with respect to reciprocity is important for those FHV companies that service pick-ups at airports located in reciprocal counties, such as, JFK and LGA. Also the WCTLC’s expansion of our online application process will be available shortly to better meet the industry’s TLC needs with optimal convenience.

3. The Westchester limo industry continues to charge and pay county sales tax and the TNCs only have to pay state sales tax.  What are the plans to even the playing field?  
The statewide TNC legislation did unfairly advantage the TNCs by exempting them from paying local sales tax.  In fact, the state designated that one-hundred percent of the 4% State Assessment Fee (SAF) that the state imposed on the TNCs goes to the state and the counties will not be given a share as would typically be the case.   Because the state stripped the county of the revenue and we lack the authority to remedy the disparity between the Sales Tax remitted by the TNCs and the FHV industry, County Executive Astorino has directed that the WCTLC amend the Rules and Regulations governing the for-hire industry in order to expeditiously streamline and review the county’s TLC fee and fine structure.

4. Please address the revamping of the WCTLC rules & regulations and fees.
As stated above, County Executive Rob Astorino has directed the WCTLC to expeditiously review their Rules and Regulations, which is to include a preview of TLC’s fee and fine structure.

5. What was the reasoning for the “Thumbs Up” program and does the public know what it is?  Also, can a TNC customer request a “Thumbs Up” driver through the TNC app?
On June 27, 2017, County Executive Astorino launched his “Thumbs Up” program with executives from both Uber and Lyft, who indicated they would encourage drivers to become fingerprinted as part of this voluntary program.  While this program is innovative, more can and should be done especially as Uber and Lyft have not agreed to allow their customers to request a “Thumbs Up” driver through their respective apps.  The county does, however, continue to speak with the TNCs in the hope that they will allow their customers to request and receive a “Thumbs Up” driver.  In addition, the county wants the TNCs to refund the customer if they decline a trip because a driver lacks the “Thumbs Up” Certificate Decal. Finally, the County Executive made sure that this program was administered by the WCTLC, which is a division of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety.

6. What is the county’s plan for educating the riding public about “Ride Sharing” and/or traditional taxi or limousine service in Westchester?  If and when is the county planning on Public Service Announcements and consumer educational material?
As stated above, the County Executive made his public safety concerns known and the county continues to work closely with the for-hire vehicle industry.  There is a strong belief that more can be done in the way of messaging by both the private and public sectors to better educate the public about the new regulatory environment and the safety concerns that exist.  Public safety education in this regard is important and should extend to the use of Public Service Announcements (PSAs), Consumer Protection outreach, etc.

7. How does this affect limousine companies operating out of Putnam and Dutchess Counties?  In particular, do limousine operators need WCTLC authorization to operate in Westchester for one point trips?
Any for-hire vehicle operator outside of Westchester County must have a WCTLC Out-of-County permit to be able to perform one-point (pick-ups/drop-offs) trips in Westchester County.  An In-County permit will allow FHV operator to perform point-to-point (two-point) trips within Westchester County.  In either scenario, drivers must have a WCTLC driver permit.

8. There is a concern that the County is going to “sell” curbside pickup privileges to TNCs at the County Airport.  Why should TNCs have a preferred priority pickup area curbside when WCTLC vehicles are relegated to wait in the Cell Phone lot at HPN?
Originally, the County viewed TNCs as creating a hazardous condition at the airport (creating congestion on the roadways, limited waiting area, etc.) and was going to restrict TNCs from making airport pickups.  Now it appears that the County wants to capitalize on TNCs at the expense of traditional WCTLC plated vehicles and the licensed vendor at the airport.
The state legislation authorizing TNCs allows counties that own or operate an airport to adopt limited regulations relating to the duties and responsibilities of TNCs on airport property. Therefore, based on the current reading of the state legislation, the County is limited to the imposition of reasonable fees on the TNCs airport services. Part of the county’s review will address all airport access issues.