Eighth New York City taxi driver suicide of 2018


Eighth New York City taxi driver suicide of 2018

Leslie Murtagh

4 December 2018

Another New York City taxi driver facing insurmountable debt has committed suicide—the eighth driver suicide in the taxi industry in the past twelve months. Yellow taxi driver Roy Kim, 58, of Bayside, Queens, hanged himself on November 5 after struggling with repaying more than $500,000 in debt since purchasing a taxi medallion last year.

The value of taxi medallions—the vehicle permit required to drive a taxi cab in New York City—has fallen from a high of $1.3 million in 2014 to a low of $200,000 this year. This 84 percent drop in medallion worth in only four years is a main factor contributing to the tragic string of taxi driver suicides.

Many drivers like Kim must pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from purchasing a medallion when it was worth much more and helped to generate much higher income. New York taxi drivers, on average, saw a $10,000 reduction in their yearly earnings between 2013 and 2016, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

The primary cause of both taxi medallion depreciation and significant income decline is the flooding of the market from ride-hailing app vehicles not subject to a medallion permit, such as Uber and Lyft, who, until this year, did not have restrictions on the number of vehicles on the road. Because of this, Uber now outpaces New York City yellow taxis both in vehicles on the road and trips per day.

Due to this well-known and wide-spread devastation of the taxi industry, which has spawned the continuing string of debt-induced suicides, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is waiving $20 million in biennial renewal fees for taxi medallion owners. The city usually requires medallion owners to cough up $1,650 every two years…

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