NYTWA Statement: NYC Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez Joins Our Call for Taxi Exemption from Congestion Surcharge
(New York, NY) On Tuesday, May 21, two days after The New York Times published a scathing investigative serieson the financial crisis for yellow cab owner-drivers and the New York Daily News published a story on how Uber and Lyft have destroyed incomes for yellow cab drivers , City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez announced his support for exempting taxis from the congestion surcharge.
NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai (she/her) released the following statement:
"While we fight for loan restructuring and debt forgiveness for owner-drivers locked into predatory medallion mortgages, yellow and green taxi drivers need immediate relief from the $2.50 congestion surcharge in effect since February 2019, as well as from any future surcharge imposed on yellow and green cabs traveling 60th street and below as part of comprehensive congestion pricing set to go into effect in 2021.
"Without an exemption from the congestion surcharge, taxi drivers -- whether they are lease drivers or owner-drivers -- simply won't earn enough to survive, even if their expenses go down.
"Every single legislator looking to hold hearings and draft bills on predatory lending also needs to champion an exemption from the surcharge.
"The surcharge has caused a downturn in ridership at a time when drivers are struggling more than ever.
"This surcharge was never intended to fix congestion. Regulated yellow taxis did not create the gridlock on our streets today. The uncheck proliferation of Uber and Lyft has choked our streets and siphoned off public transit riders, worsening the MTA budget shortfall. Instead of holding private capital accountable, the surcharge punishes a workforce facing an economic crisis that has pushed nine of our brothers to suicide.
"We applaud City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez for joining our call to exempt taxis from the devastating congestion surcharge."
Our full list of demands for yellow taxi owner-drivers:
Debt forgiveness. NYC Council should establish a permanent taskforce to provide oversight of the medallion lending market and determine the current market value, and oversee a program to forgive all loan amounts that exceed the value determined by the taskforce. For example, if the value is determined to be $250,000, an outstanding loan of $500,000 would be slashed in half.
Cap medallion mortgage payments. Medallion mortgage payments should be capped at $900 a month.
Exempt yellow taxis from congestion surcharge. The congestion surcharge has caused a downturn in ridership at a time when drivers are struggling more than ever. Yellow taxis did not create the crisis of congestion and the surcharge is one more way the government is extracting wealth from those who can least afford it.
Regulate the rate of fare across the industry. There should be one regulated metered rate of fare across all sectors so that Uber and Lyft cannot starve app drivers to starve taxi drivers. And drivers need a modest increase in fares that goes solely into their pockets, not into state or city coffers.
Retirement fund so drivers can retire with dignity. Thousands of elderly drivers have seen their retirements wiped out as banks and the city allowed medallion values to bubble and then crash. Drivers in their 70s are continuing to work 7 days a week with no end in sight. The City needs to establish a retirement fund for all drivers.