Suicides among New York taxi drivers are on the rise, with seven—six yellow cab drivers, one Uber driver—committing suicide this year so far. Family members have told reporters they’re certain their loved ones decided to kill themselves because of the finical ruin the industry left them in, thanks to the rise of apps like Uber and Lyft. Now, the city of New York has decided to waive a total of $20 million in fees to alleviate some of the pressures they face by freeing the owners of the city’s 13,500 cabs $2,200 in biennial fees, inspection charges, and a $10 medallion renewal, according to the Associated Press. city councilman is also looking to find ways to help drivers and owners out of debt.
Cabbies have seen their pay significantly decrease since the arrival of apps like Uber and Lyft, which regularly undercut the traditional New York taxi drivers. Back in 2013, the average annual earnings for a full-time driver was around $45,000. But according to some estimates, drivers today take away just $29,000 for the same amount of work.
Yellow cab drivers are facing a dilemma. With longer hours resulting in less money, the pressure is mounting for an entire workforce as they face a critical juncture. Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, explained to the New York Post the pressure drivers are under. “I’ve seen payment statements where they’re taking home like $50 after they’ve put in a 12-hour shift.” According to the the report, many of the for-hire drivers now earn less than an hourly worker at McDonald’s.
In August, the New York City Council voted to curb the number of new for-hire vehicles over the forthcoming year, so officials could take a deeper look into the likes of Uber and Lyft and gage their impact on the entire taxi industry.
Apps coming straight out of Silicon Valley that cause drives to invade cities across the world aren’t just bringing down competitor’s wages, they not paying their own staff a living wage. The previous month after the temporary ban on new for-hire drivers in the city was announced, it was also revealed that regulators were looking into a compulsory pay rise to help bolster driver’s wages who work for ride-hailing services, as it seems the majority of profits are funnelled back into the tech arm of the service.
But the main app Uber is adamant the problem isn’t across the board and have said they want to protect yellow taxi drivers as they come face to face with the demise of their livelihood. Over the summer, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi suggested to the New York Post in an exclusive interview that there should be an additional surcharge on all fares, collected and put in a “hardship fund” to help “get some of these owner-operators get out from underwater and to continue making a better life and to make a decent life and to help themselves.”