New York's famous (infamous?) taxi drivers may get a new dress code in 2011 that's shorter in form than the current version but broader in intent.
As it's written now, section 4-15 (b) of the Taxicab Drivers Rules manual (PDF) states that drivers face a $25 fine for failing to be "clean and neat in dress and person." In terms of specifics, that means a driver may not wear underwear, tank tops, tube tops, body shirts, swimwear, bathing trunks or cut-off shorts as outer clothing.
A proposed amendment would replace the list of prohibited apparel (PDF) with a more general requirement: that a driver "present a professional appearance."
The Taxi and Limousine Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed rules December 16. In the meantime, the agency is accepting comments through the NYC Rules website until December 6.
"The TLC believes that a general requirement better states its concerns and that a detailed list is outmoded and impractical," the city agency said in a public notice on its website. "The TLC believes that the public is entitled to drivers who present a neat and professional appearance."
TLC Chairman David Yassky told the New York Times that the change, which is expected to be approved at the December hearing, is part of an effort to simplify the 62-page rulebook.
The executive director of drivers' advocacy group told the Times said she was shocked to hear that a driver could be fined for his or her sartorial choices.
“What was it about? Somebody wore shorts?” asked Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “I would be concerned if the idea of professional attire is left to the naked eye to decide.”
The new rule is bundled with a seemingly unrelated proposal that eliminates the need for drivers to inform passengers at the start of the trip that they must pay for any tolls, under the basis that "the riding public is aware, generally, that passengers are responsible for tolls."