Ride Safe Livery Stand pilot program hailed a success

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) joined with other officials to celebrate the success of the first Ride Safe stand in Queens.
THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan.

Two months after its inception, transit officials have hailed the pilot Ride Safe Livery Stand program a success.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) — both instrumental figures in the stand’s creation — joined with other officials on Thursday, November 10 to celebrate the thriving launch of the first Ride Safe stand in Queens.

The stand — in operation since September — is located directly outside the Jamaica Long Island Rail Road station’s main entrance, at the intersection of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue.

The cylinder-shaped, bold, bright yellow booth features an on-site dispatcher 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and two Queens Village Car Service vehicles that wait nearby for passengers.

“This stand is a key transportation hub, serving the core of Jamaica’s vital commercial district,” said David Yassky, commissioner and chair of TLC. “The ability to offer passengers the high-quality, safe and convenient taxi-like service they need and deserve in an area that is historically not served by yellow taxis is an innovation.”

The stand is designed to put an end to illegal pickups by unauthorized cabs, which officials say put riders in potential danger.

“The presence of aggressive taxi hustling around the Long Island Rail Road/Air Train station created serious quality-of-life problems and contributed to the public’s misperception of downtown Jamaica,” said Carlisle Towery, president of GJDC. “The institution of the Ride Safe program has transformed the area around the station.”

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department (MTAPD), illegal livery activity has drastically decreased in the vicinity of the Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue intersection and also on 91st Street since the stand’s inception, which is also attributed to stepped up enforcement.

Of the 1,180 summons distributed for illegal livery violations this year, Captain Kevin Kieran of the MTAPD said many of the cab drivers were driving without licenses or with suspended licenses.

“This station has such a tremendous concentration of passengers that it was really attracting a lot of illegal activity,” Yassky said. “It’s always dangerous when passengers are getting into a car, and they have no idea if the car is properly licensed or insured. There’s a risk there. We’re making sure people can get into a vehicle, get where they’re going safely, and do it knowing that the driver has been screened, and that the car has been inspected and is properly insured.”

So far, transit officials say the stand has provided almost 3,000 safe and convenient livery rides.

“The stand is a good idea,” said commuter Bharat Chhugani. “I’ve seen people who have been overcharged by double the amount, especially if they’re not from around here.”

The cost of the ride is computed by mileage, and drivers must provide detailed receipts to passengers, which include the vehicle and license number in case of a problem.

“We can move around this area with comfort and with ease now,” said Jacqueline Boyce, chair of Community Board 12. “I’m just thrilled, and I look forward to seeing this being expanded and seeing this community keep getting the service it deserves.”

The stand is under a one-year term, although it may be extended or terminated early depending on circumstances.

There are four other Ride Safe stands throughout the city, including two in Brooklyn and one at the Staten Island Ferry Street George Terminal, according to Allan Fromberg, deputy commissioner for public affairs.