WOODSIDE, Queens - Ever wondered how a taxi or other for-hire vehicle driver gets approved for the road?
Before they can pick up passengers, drivers must pass a 200-plus point inspection at the Taxi and Limousine Commission inspection facility in Woodside, Queens.
TLC gave 7 On Your Side Investigates exclusive access to that facility and a behind-the-scenes view of what certified mechanics are doing before giving vehicles the green light.
"Point of entry is the beginning, and the computer system randomly will pick which of the six lanes the car will go into," said TLC Deputy Chief Angel Galban, who oversees operations at the facility. "Once they have a lane assigned, they can't switch from this lane to another lane. They will not permit it for integrity reasons."
READ MORE: 7 On Your Side Investigates uncovers safety defects in for-hire vehicles
According to TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg, the facility is responsible for inspecting and licensing the more than 130,000 taxis and for-hire vehicles, including Uber, Lyft, Via and other black car services in NYC.
The city estimates 1,200 to 1,300 cars pass through this facility a day.
Certified mechanics check for safety-related issues and emissions.
"In position one, the officer is getting the data and confirming the vehicle that's here and the driver. Simultaneously, he is doing what's called an 'OBD2 Test,' which is the emissions of the vehicle to make sure that all the readiness monitors are completed, and either the car is going to pass or fail. So it's an emissions test," Galban said. "We are also checking vehicles to see if they meet DMV criteria and TLC criteria."
"Position two the officer will check the meter and will also check the TPEP system (credit card system)," Galban said, adding that a tech will also check the vehicle's GPS system."Position three, we check the parking brakes, the emergency brakes, the brake system, and the headlights. We check all the seatbelts and all the accessories that are inside the car. Position 4 is the complete under carriage."
As part of the position 4 check, vehicles are placed on a shaker plate to insure the vehicle has no loose parts.
Taxis visit TLC three times a year.
Other for-hire companies visit TLC once every two years, though they must pass five additional inspections at New York State Department of Motor Vehicles certified inspection stations during that two-year period.
Vehicles that fail can't pick up passengers.
"We try to keep it under an hour as best as possible," Galban said. "Once a vehicle leaves this facility and it passes, it's probably one of the safest cars in the world or in NYC."
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