NYC Can Now Vaccinate TLC Drivers. How Could This Play Out?

Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday that he is giving county officials the power to add TLC drivers and restaurant workers to the list of people eligible for a coronavirus vaccine

Governor Cuomo’s guidance on Tuesday makes over 150,000 licensed TLC drivers and an estimated 865,000 restaurant and foodservice workers across New York State, eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Specific NYC guidance is scarce, as of now, so I make some predictions below.

My Thoughts

While this is welcome news for many in the for-hire transportation industry across NYC and New York State, the process of effectively distributing the vaccine to TLC drivers may prove to be tricky. My first prediction is the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) will get involved in scheduling vaccine appointments for FHV drivers. There are also going to be a few interesting dynamics that will play out. For example, let’s say a TLC driver who has an active license, but has not been driving for some time takes advantage of the new guidance? Two other dynamics that may play out are (1) Soft pressure from Uber and Lyft to encourage vaccination and penalize those who don’t get vaccinated and (2) the TLC having to create new rules related to public safety and unvaccinated drivers. Some thoughts below.

Soft Pressure from Uber & Lyft

Firstly, I don’t think it’s possible for Uber, Lyft, yellow cab garages, and black car bases to officially bar unvaccinated drivers from working on their platforms. However, I have no doubt they can effectively require the vaccination in a variety of ways. For example, Uber or Lyft may ask passengers whether they have a preference for a driver that has been vaccinated. In this instance, consumers are effectively driving vaccination compliance on the majority of the driver population. If Uber and Lyft do go down this route it would only be fair to give drivers the same option in regards to the passengers they pick up.

TLC Considerations Related to Public Safety

As the regulator of the NYC for-hire transportation sector, the TLC’s mandate is not only regulating for-hire drivers and vehicles but ensuring public safety. Similar to requiring all drivers to pass a drug test (obviously a much more uncontroversial example), will the TLC create a mechanism that rewards drivers who get vaccinated? If the required Vision Zero stickers on the front windshields of TLC vehicles aim to help protect the general public from accidents, could a similar regulation be created to help protect the riding public from being infected with COVID?

Let’s see how it all plays out, but I believe we are entering a world where a COVID vaccine “passport” will be required to do many jobs, attend events and interact in many public spaces. Given the NYC for-hire transportation industry is a sector that involves a variety of close in-person interactions, I can’t see how the industry can avoid some sort of new requirements related to the vaccine.

Let me know your thoughts below!

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The Auto Marketplace NYC (fka TLCMKT) Newsletter is written by Dawood Mian, Founder & CEO of Auto Marketplace NYC. He covers the NYC for-hire transportation industry and related news. Search Auto Marketplace NYC for cars, parts, tires, mechanics, reviews & more. Find great deals at TLCMKT.COM