UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — Taxi drivers were lined up outside the mayor’s home in Manhattan Friday demanding debt relief.
Homero, one driver and taxi medallion owner, says they need this.
“This was going to be my retirement, because we don’t have a retirement plan, we don’t have a 401k,” he said.
Long before the pandemic, droves of yellow taxi owners were drowning in debt. With the added stress of a health crisis and emptier streets, things are even worse.
“The yellow cab sector is in real danger of shutting down all together at this point,” said Bhairavi Desai of the NY Taxi Workers Alliance.
On Friday, PIX11 News learned more than 50 drivers have died from COVID-19. Some cab owners like Homero said that they haven’t worked since April because of the pandemic.
Outside Gracie Mansion Friday, taxi drivers pulled up to sound off.
Their protests began as the city council’s transportation committee put the mayor’s administration on the hot seat. The taxi and limousine commission explained how they adapted to COVID-19.
“We have given them health and safety tips, reminding drivers to wear masks, to clean vehicles frequently,” said TLC Commissioner Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk.
The TLC also connected some drivers with jobs delivering food to hungry New Yorkers. But drivers said there is still no solution to their most pressing problem.
Yellow taxi medallion owners are still restling with crushing debt after the value of their medallions tanked. IN the hearing, drivers shared personal stories.
In January, the city’s taxi medallion task force said it was time to take urgent and bold action. But the 6,000 medallion owners are still waiting on a plan as the city focused on the pandemic.