Cabbies say app-based services ruining their lives

New York City taxi drivers rallied outside City Hall on Tuesday, demanding that the City Council step in and regulate app-based cars for hire. They claim that services such as Uber and Lyft are destroying their business and taking a heavy toll on their lives.

The cries were for all drivers to come together in memory of five yellow cab, livery, and black car drivers who the Taxi Workers Alliance says have taken their lives in the last five months.

The alliance says that heavy medallion and licensing fees, along with set rates are making competing with app-based car services impossible. The TWA says many drivers are looking at financial ruin.

Richard Chow, who attended the rally, said his brother, Kenny Chow, took his own life out of desperation.

"We are deeply saddened and our thoughts are with Chow's family. Drivers who own individual medallions have been left behind by change and exploited by lenders, and we support action that eases their financial burden," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.

The drivers said they want action. They said they want all car services—yellow medallion cabs, green cabs, and app-based care services—to all operate on the same metered-fare basis. They also want a cap on the number of cars.

In response, an Uber spokesperson said, "New vehicles keep up with the growing demand for rides outside of Manhattan. Capping the number of Ubers would only hurt the millions of outer borough riders who have long been ignored by yellow taxis and who don't have access to reliable public transit."

City Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr., whose Bronx district includes many livery cab drivers, said the public debate about the industry's future is just beginning and that he is not the only member who is hearing their cries for help.