NYC cabbies are being driven to the edge of financial ruin and despair as ride-hail apps like Uber and Lyft continue to take their customers.
Last week, in the fourth driver suicide since November, Nicanor Ochisor, 65, hanged himself inside his Queens home, depressed over the plummeting value of the taxi medallion he owned that was supposed to finance his home and looming retirement. The value plunged from $1 million to around $180,000 over the last five years.
Last month, longtime black-car driver Doug Schifter shot himself in front of City Hall over money troubles. And two livery drivers killed themselves in recent months, one of whom, Danilo Castillo, pointedly wrote his suicide note on the back of a Taxi and Limousine Commission summons.
“We’ve seen this building over the past three years in particular. The financial crisis is crushing enough, but it’s the political silence that’s destroying people,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.
Without the political will to cap them, the number of for-hire cars in circulation has swelled to about 100,000 (roughly two-thirds are Uber drivers). The number of yellow cabs is capped by the city at 13,587.