While much of the debate over two car-share companies expanding to the Upper East Side has focused on the minuscule fee being collected by the city for residential parking spaces on UES streets, others are outraged by one of the company’s plans to encourage untrained drivers to get behind the wheels of large pick-up trucks and hit the road in our neighborhood.
“The goal is to you should be able to walk to a pick-up truck, reserve it unlock it with your app, and you’re off and running,” Truqit founder Sohail Suleman explained to Community Board 8’s Transportation Committee on Wednesday night — the first time details of the car-share program’s expansion to include hourly truck rentals was revealed.
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Mr. Suleman also told the committee that Truqit has selected two sites on the Upper East Side, located on East 82nd and East 90th Streets near Second Avenue, where it will store four large Toyota Tacoma pick-up trucks that will be available for rent.
It’s not clear whether the pick-up trucks will be owned by Truqit or private individuals — in San Francisco, where the company currently operates, the site only aggregates listings for ten-year-old Toyota Tacomas — stored in driveways, parking lots and garages — from other peer-to-peer car-share companies like Getaround and Turo.
Regardless, Truqit’s plan was a non-starter, with both the public and community board members pointing to the dangers posed by the combination of hulking pick-up truck paired with an inexperienced driver.
“We shouldn’t be doing anything that emulates anything that’s going on in San Francisco, even though they may well need pick-up trucks because everybody’s leaving,” said board member Michelle Birnbaum, who conceded the comment was gratuitous.
A member of the public, Maggie Lehman, called the truck-share plan “nothing short of terrifying.”
“The notion that anyone by simply getting on your platform can go and rent a truck for two hours not having learned how to drive a truck, not understanding the difference between driving a car and a truck, seems to me to be the epitome of recklessness,” Lehman explained.
“We know they’ve had a large role in rising traffic violence — pick-up trucks and SUVs are more deadly on our streets,” said Community Board 8 member Billy Freeland.
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“And I’m particularly concerned … about having those types of vehicles being used by people who may not be aware of how to drive those cars appropriately,” Freeland added.
Back on May 3rd, a 66-year old Upper East Side man was struck and killed by the driver of a privately-owned black Toyota Tacoma making a left turn as he crossed East 77th Street at First Avenue, according to police.
Ultimately, Community Board 8’s Transportation Committee unanimously voted to denounce the truck-share program and call on the DOT to scrap Truqit’s rollout — it now heads to the full board for a vote on November 16th.
However, even if adopted by the full board, the measure disapproving of the truck-share program is a non-binding recommendation with no actual teeth to force a change in plans.
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