Taxi drivers in the city of New York gathered at City Hall Tuesday in hopes of influencing the city to impose stronger regulations on services like Uber to provide rides to passengers. The protests come on the heels of five taxi driver suicides in the last five months.
Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the Taxi Workers Alliance in New York says that these services have caused the income potential for taxi drivers to diminish which has caused much despair among them.
The Workers Alliance is calling for limitations to be placed on the number of cars from ride-hailing services that can be in use on the streets of New York. The organization also thinks the city can help the plight of its taxi driver community by applying minimum fares across the industry.
Many taxi drivers in the city of New York say they have experienced a substantial decrease in wages since the additional competition was introduced by way of ride-hailing services.
Ms. Desai expressed her concern for the taxi driver community by emphasizing that she has never seen the level of despair that currently exists. Desai’s group organized the rally one week following the recovery of taxi driver Yu Mein Chow’s body from the East River.
Chow was a cab driver working in Queens, New York and had been missing since May 11. Mr. Chow had struggled recently with trying to pay a $700,000 loan he used to purchase the permit that was necessary to allow him to gather passengers on the streets of New York City. Chow was also recently alerted to the fact that his wife was suffering from stage 4 cancer.
Yu Mein’s brother, Richard Chow, is also a cab driver in the city of New York and says that he now has to work about 14 hours a day to earn the same amount of money that he would need to work eight hours a day to earn just five years ago. Richard, who is 59 years old, says that he loved his brother and laments the fact that Yu Mein left behind an ailing wife and daughter.
Four other cab drivers in the city have committed suicide since December. One of them, Doug Schifter, took his life while outside of City Hall.