NYC taxi cab drivers' hunger strike hits day 10

New York City taxi cab drivers are on day 10 of a hunger strike protesting the city's medallion debt relief program that they say doesn't go far enough.

For taxi cab medallion owner Richard Chow, this is a life-and-death situation. He paid $410,000 for his medallion 16 years ago and his monthly payments are more than $2,000 a month, money he says he doesn't have.

"I have no choice, I have to fight for our life back," Chow told FOX 5 NY.

Chow is one of 15 cabbies protesting outside City Hall, pleading with Mayor Bill de Blasio to reduce their debt.

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The New York Taxi Workers Alliance says 4,000 of its drivers need help. They aren't asking the city to wipe out their debt completely, but to pay off a portion.

"We want the city to use its leverage to get the banks to reduce the debt to $147,000 paid off at $800 a month," said Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the Taxi Workers Alliance.

The city's Taxi and Limousine Commission has set up the Medallion Relief Program, offering grants of up to $20,000.

"It's a joke," Desai said. "They are making a mockery of people's pain."

Today, there are fewer yellow cab drivers on the streets of New York City. According to the TLC, 217,474 trips per day were recorded in September 2019. This past September, there were only 98,724.

The Taxi Workers Alliance say the cab shortage is not because they are protesting, but because it doesn't pay for the drivers to be out on the streets when they are drowning in debt.

The drivers say they will remain protesting and without food for as  long as it takes.