NYTWA Calls on City Council to Exempt Yellow Cabs from Congestion Pricing
Failure to Act will lead to more Bankruptcies and Homelessness Among Drivers
Eight drivers pushed to suicide by financial despair in the past year
Drivers from every sector, yellow cab, black car, livery and Uber drivers themselves are facing foreclosures, bankruptcies and homelessness at an unprecedented rate
(New York, NY) After eight drivers were pushed to suicide by financial devastation in the past year, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance is calling on City Council to intervene to exempt yellow cabs from congestion pricing. Four of the eight suicides in the past year were yellow cab drivers, three of whom had been sunk into poverty after purchasing their own medallions -- ones a sure route to a middle class income. Among them was yellow taxi owner-driver Roy Kim the most recent driver to die by suicide.
Statement from NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai:
The City Council and Mayor must step in and defend yellow cab drivers who are already facing unprecedented devastation and could lose as much as $15,000 in income if they are not exempted from congestion pricing.
Congestion pricing on the backs of New York City's struggling drivers would be one more case of shamelessly stealing from the poor, from people who have nothing left to give. The state and the city need to understand that the once stable path to middle class earnings for yellow cab drivers has been destroyed by uneven competition. Now is the time to stabilize income for this workforce, not to sink workers deeper into poverty and despair.
When Albany passed the congestion pricing measure in March, four drivers had taken their own lives due to financial devastation. It was a heartless and cruel attack by Albany to pass the surcharge. Today, the number has risen to eight suicides, among them four yellow cab drivers.
Yellow cabs have already contributed close to $1 billion toward the MTA since 2009. Meanwhile, Uber and its cohorts are getting a break on surcharges for the same pool trips that have driven down MTA ridership.
Albany is crushing a sector and workforce that has contributed to MTA funding all these years, while rewarding a business model that is directly trying to gut MTA ridership and is directly responsible for the congestion choking our streets. Once again Albany is letting Wall-Street bankrolled companies write the laws, while we bury drivers dead from financial despair.
In 2009, when the 50 cent MTA surcharge was passed for yellow cabs, the livery sector was exempt because of the financial hardship it would create for a small business sector. Why would that consideration not be given to the yellow cab sector now in crisis?
We call on the City Council to intervene with a home rule message, demanding the state to delay implementation in order address the devastation Congestion Pricing would have on the yellow cab sector.