If Uber, Lyft, taxicab drivers, and others registered by New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) are classified as essential workers, why aren’t they receiving priority for a COVID-19 vaccine? This is the question posed in a Jan. 20 op-ed in the New York Daily News by Matthew W. Daus, partner & chair, Transportation Practice Group at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf.
New York State’s next phase of vaccine distribution (Phase 1b) includes public transit workers but makes no mention of TLC drivers. However, eight other states have prioritized vaccinations for drivers of taxicabs, ride-hailing apps, community car services, and paratransit vehicles.
“As the city continues to work its way through the pandemic and gears-up for further re-opening throughout 2021, it is critical to further mitigate the risk of spreading COVID by vaccinating TLC drivers on the same timeline as public transit workers,” Daus wrote in the op-ed.
The pandemic has decimated these businesses, whose drivers come from diverse backgrounds and are generally independent contractors, not employees with paid medical leave and other basic protections, Daus wrote.
Daus pointed out that federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allows for inclusion in the Phase 1b category of “Other Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation.”
The International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR), a non-profit educational association of government transportation officials (of which Daus is president) recommends that regulators follow CDC guidance by treating drivers as essential workers who should be given vaccine priority in category 1b.
Matt Daus was chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission from 2001 to 2010. Today, Daus serves as president of the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR). He has spoken at the 2019 and 2020 International Car Rental Shows.