NYC Taxis

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Taxi Driver Advocate Says Medallions Now Worthless

June 15, 2018 - 1:53 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Yellow taxis have been a symbol of New York City for decades, but the industry now faces straining financial hardships. 

Facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt on their once high-priced medallions, five New York City cab drivers have committed suicide this year.

"They're going through what our country went through during the Great Depression," said Fernando Mateo, with the New York Federation of Taxi Drivers. "Some of these drivers bought medallions for $1.2 million -- $1 million, $800,000, $700,000 -- these medallions are worthless right now. They're worth $150,000, if you're lucky."

There were 139 medallions auctioned off this week in Queens for $24 million in cash, The Daily News reported.

The Post says about 130,00 for-hire vehicles are on city streets today.

But Mateo said he isn't convinced that Uber and Lyft are to blame for the plight of taxi drivers.

"Uber could've existed with Lyft and yellow medallions without a problem, but once you introduce a green taxi cab to pick up street hails and compete with the yellow cabs, you're basically killing them," Mateo said.

He says the solution is for politicians to listen and follow advice form people behind the wheel.