When Getting TLC license: The 24-hour Course?

As part of getting TLC license, I was required by the city of New York to attend the “24-hour” course.  The reason it’s called that is because it’s a three day course, each day requiring eight hours of instruction (8 x 3 = 24).  The interesting thing was that I had already received my TLC license, and was driving with rideshare apps in NYC when I took the course.  Although it’s a mandatory component of getting TLC license, I was not required to enroll until my probationary (i.e.,  the purple one-year license) license was set to expire.  

I’m not sure if that’s the way it still works; but last summer my “probi” license was up for renewal, and so I had to take the 24-hour course and pass the subsequent exam.

Therefore, rideshare drivers in NYC seeking to obtain their TLC license may encounter a similar experience.  If you are one such person, perhaps you aren’t sure what to expect after you’ve scheduled the 24-hour course?

What kind of questions are going to be on the exam? And do I even really have to study for it to pass?

This post is a quick’ and dirty guide to taking the 24-hour course, and I will subsequently address these concerns and more in the following paragraphs.  So, read on!

Back in The Classroom Again?

Getting TLC license is long process, which takes several weeks if you’re diligent.  On average I’d say it takes 4-10 weeks, depending on whether you get lucky when scheduling the courses or not.  You could get TLC license in under 90 days easily.  If you’re looking for a broad overview of the necessary requirements, it could be tough to find on the internet elsewhere.  Because the TLC website is so massive, and difficult to navigate.

This particular article is geared towards rideshare drivers who’ve met the majority of the requirements needed in getting TLC license.  Or even have the purple “probi” license.  You’ve just scheduled the 24-hour course, and want to ensure you’ll be able to breeze right through it?  Okay, then.

What does Getting TLC license cost?

To schedule the 24-hour course, it costs $250 – $275.  Additionally, you’ll be required to purchase a “5 borough” map for $22.  The map is mandatory, as ~1/4 of the exam questions require referencing the map.  You can’t pay with credit card, so make sure you bring cash or cashier’s check.  I recommend going through Hanac Taxi Academy in LIC, the location on Queens Boulevard.  Parking is limited to meter parking,  across the street under the train.  These spots fill up quickly, so leave yourself a little extra time on course days.  If you miss any part of one of the course days, they won’t let you sit for the exam.

Check out Hanac Taxi Academy when getting TLC license.


Day 1 – Learning the Map

This day is spent orienting you to the 5 boroughs map, and learning how to use it.  My instructor taught us how to use the map, and quizzed us on finding streets through using the index.  John was a yellow cab driver for over 30 years.  So he knows the 5 boroughs like the back of his hand.  He quizzed us on the smallest little difficult streets to find, which inadvertently was good practice for actual exam.

Day 2 – TLC Rules of The Road

This day is spent going over most of the TLC laws that affect TLC drivers when they’re working.  Before getting TLC license, and taking the 24-hour course, I was unaware of some of these laws.  And have faced legal consequences for mistakenly violating them (e.g., getting pulled over, receiving summons, points on license, etc.).  Therefore, this component is quite important for all TLC drivers.  Especially rideshare app drivers, who have to manage customer business through their cell phones and/or tablets.  There are too many rules to go through in the scope of this post; however, some of the more common violations to be aware of include:

  • Cell Phone rule – Drivers must not use electronic communication device while operating a vehicle, and are subject to a $250 fine.  Exceptions include a “one-touch” contact with phone to accept dispatch requests (i.e., through a TNC app).  Multiple violations could result in having to take cell phone course.  Make sure you’re standing or parked when using cell phone.                                       
  • Smoking rule – Drivers are not allowed to smoke in their TLC vehicle, Passengers also are not allowed to smoke in the vehicle.  Your vehicle is considered a public mode of transportation, and smoking in car is $150 fine.  Also, drivers that incure three TLC tickets within a 15-month period get one point, and are subject to taking the $75 refresher course.  Getting caught smoking in your FHV is an easy way to rack up no-point summons; so be careful not to smoke or even vape while you’re driving.                 
  • Traffic Control devices – Make sure you always follow signs of the road.  If there’s a no-turn sign, don’t make the turn!  Never listen to a pax who insists on you turning, getting a summons and/or points is not worth trying to please a stranger.  The majority of incidents that I’ve encountered involve disobeying traffic control devices. This includes stop signs and lights too. 

There are many other rules governing the operation of a TLC vehicle; however, these are the biggest three that you may encounter.  Remember, cops and TLC agents prey upon taxi and for-hire drivers because a.) there are so many of them in NYC, and 2.) it’s very easy for us to violate the laws incidentally while we’re working.

Day 3 – Rules of the Road Cont’d. & Vision Zero

The third and final day of the 24-hour course involves more learning of TLC rules, and a video by Vision Zero (the safe driving initiative introduced by Mayor Bill DeBlasio).  This day was the longest of the three, because we’ve already covered so much.  Still, there’s other pertinent information that was covered including professional appearance, drug testing, through streets, street and water crossings, etc.  You’ll also schedule the exam on this day.

Furthermore, the instructor sort of ran out of material to teach by Day 3.  And I remember him just sitting, reading something at his desk in front of the entire classroom for extended periods of time.  The Vision Zero video presentation stresses the importance of safe driving, going slowly, and how families have lost loved ones due to traffic incidents.  This part is boring, but just imagine how tragic it would be if, God forbid, you accidentally struck and/or killed a pedestrian?! 

Finally, when getting TLC license you’ll be joining a large quantity of other for-hire vehicle (FHV) drivers; however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a respectable way to earn a living.  A lot of rideshare drivers in NYC do this full-time, and feel like “losers” or “slaves to Uber” after a few weeks.  Others have a more positive attitude towards their position, as expressed by Uberpeople.net forum user “d23perry” who said:

I have actually been quite surprised by the support I have received. Many [people] have patted me on the back (so to speak) for my resolve to take charge of my circumstances. Whether you are doing this full time or part time, it should be viewed favorably. You got off your butt and chose to be proactive in caring for your financial needs, with significant upfront costs, rather than lying down and playing dead.

I get the sense that this rideshare driver is confident with his/her financial situation.  And ideally that is key for both part-time and full-time FHV drivers.  After all, the reason why most people participate in the on-demand economy is for extra cash.  Sometimes that extra cash is your only cash.

Featured image courtesy of The Met on 5th Avenue, “Vintage Car Sign