Taxi drivers

Taxi drivers gather at New York City Hall – Washington Square News

Taxi drivers gathered outside City Hall for the Taxicab and Limousine Commission public hearing in support of the medallion loan cut.

By Zhuoer Liu, Contributing Author

Members of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance gathered outside New York City Hall on February 8 for a public hearing by the Taxicab and Limousine Commission into the debt relief pledge they won in December. Nearly 100 taxi drivers were present.

after a hunger strike which ran for two weeks from October to November, NYTWA brokered a debt relief agreement that resulted in Marblegate Asset Management completes Taxi Medallion Owner Assistance Program and writes off $70 million in debt.

Medallions are a mandatory license that all taxi drivers purchase to operate an independent taxi in New York. A study by The New York Times found that medallion prices were deliberately raised by banks from 2002 to 2014, causing taxi drivers to go into debt to struggle to repay the banks.

“In 2006, I bought the medallion at an auction in New York,” said NYTWA activist Richard Chow. “I offered $410,000 for it. The price was very crazy at that time; it went up to $1.1 million. My American dream came true, I earned a good living, took care of my family and raised my kid through college as a taxi driver. Now prices are down to $70,000 to $80,000. Worst time since the pandemic. More people will lose their jobs.

At the public hearing, the commission proposed that the $200,000 loans receive a $30,000 city-backed grant and that the remaining $170,000 be amortized at 5% interest over the 20 coming years.

State Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) said during testimony at the open court that several considerations are necessary to ensure that all loans are covered and that medallion owners receive loan relief. Ramos stressed that these conversations must include the drivers.

“No decision regarding workers should be made without them at the table,” Ramos said. “I thank TLC for beginning this process with a public hearing and remain committed to the immigrant workers who have organized for a just solution to this terrible crisis.”

In the hear testimoniesRamos said the medallion program must deliver on the city’s debt relief promises. She said it involves tougher rules to prevent lenders from deciding which loans are restructured, a further extension of cash execution offers and an expansion of qualifications for medallion loan relief.

As Ramos and taxi drivers wait for promised changes to be enacted, NYTWA organizer Mohammad Tipu Sultan hope that no unexpected changes will be made.

“It has to be a regulation, the TLC has to approve that and today we testify based on that,” Sultan said. “We want to make sure the rule is followed. We want to get this issue resolved as soon as possible and make sure no driver is left behind.

Contact Zhuoer Liu to [email protected]