I got lost behind my lens, taken back by the protesters pain, worries and anger as I stood documenting their fight to be heard on 633 3rd Ave, in front of the courthouse yesterday. I could relate to their financial worries, having to support a family.
It will cost someone $5.80 to step into a taxicab now, which is devastating to all taxi drivers. Protesters cried out in anger, “Could you survive a 15,000 cut pay?” While reminding the public how many lives have been lost due to suicide because of the financial cuts and burden. “Bankruptcies, evictions, Government Cuomo, where is your Mercy?”
The NYC surcharge tax takes in effect today and is estimated to generate about $400 million per year for the MTA. Uber and Lyft surcharge rates increased to $2.75 per ride (Uberpool an extra .75 cents per ride), and taxis face an additional $2.50 surcharge. The new fees only apply to vehicles traveling below 96th street.
Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, understood the high cost of Taxi drivers medallions and backed surcharge hikes on ride sharing apps to support NYC Taxis drivers in 2018 according to WLNY, CBS New York. Medallions used to be a great investment for Taxi drivers. If you owed one, you could make up to $5-$7,000 a month. Three of the drivers who committed suicide last year owned taxi medallions, one bought at one million, now valued at $200k. Since Uber and Lyft came into the picture, 46 medallions have since been auctioned off around $160-$200K, they now mean little to taxi drivers.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance asks medallion holders not to proceed with foreclosure and if a taxi driver should file bankruptcy, they urge drivers to talk about it.
According to Salary.com the average salary for a taxi driver is $36k as of Jan 1, 2019.
Though cab driver’s anger maybe fueled towards ride sharing apps, yesterday was clear, let’s make more awareness on the suicide factor. Suicide rates are climbing and the financial burden to care for their families is heavy; it needs more attention. Suicide rates in adults have increased 40% from 1999 according to U.S. News and financial issues were the common factors of death.
My personal opinion. One with a family to support, simply cannot cut their hours to take up yoga. Time is money, more pressure, more stress. We don’t talk about financial pressures and hardships as often as we should, it’s too embarrassing. The reality is, a financial toll is a lot to carry, especially if you have a family to support. You aren’t alone, don’t suffer in silence. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 for the deaf and hearing impaired 1-800-799-4889.