'We're finished': New York City taxi industry collapsing
NEW YORK - Taxi drivers in New York City say they’re reaching their breaking point, as the COVID-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on business.
With many drivers still drowning in debt from the medallion crisis, the pandemic has not only killed over 60 drivers and sickened many others, but its economic impact has been severe, with the Taxi and Limousine Commission reporting that trips fell as much as 84 percent from their pre-virus days.
“We're finished, we’ve been destroyed,” said Mouhamadou Aliyu, a taxi driver in the city.
While there was a slight increase in taxi trips in June, they are still down by more than 70 percent compared to before the pandemic.
“There is a real crisis across this entire industry,” said Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents thousands of yellow and green taxi drivers, as well as drivers with Uber, Lyft, and Via.
According to the Alliance, those suffering most are drivers like Mouhamadou, who owns a yellow taxi medallion from the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, and still owes more than $600,000 in payments to the bank.
Desai says that the city should intervene on behalf of yellow cab medallion owners and encourage banks to reduce the debt.
In a statement to FOX 5 NY, the Taxi and Limousine Commission said: "Most lenders, with the exception of PenFed, are working with their borrowers and the TLC and our Driver Resource Center has had successes in helping Owners reach better borrowing terms. The city is in crisis as a result of COVID-19, and the TLC has consistently rolled out supports and will continue to lend assistance to Drivers and Owners, especially in light of the City’s current fiscal state."
Mayor De Blasio has said that the city does not have the financial wherewithal to bail out the city's taxi drivers, but reiterated his belief that the federal government should step in to help.