A vigil was held Sunday for a taxi driver from Queens, after his family said he took his own life after he was under financial stress related to his wife's cancer and a loan on his taxi medallion.
The Taxi Workers Alliance is gathering at 86th St. and East End Avenue — where the Alliance said the driver's cab was last parked — on the Upper East Side this afternoon to remember Yu Mein "Kenny" Chow.
"I love my brother. He's very hard working, he loved his family," the taxi driver's brother, Richard Chow, said at the vigil, in tears.
Chow went missing on May 11. The Taxi Workers Alliance said Saturday that his body was found in the East River.
The Alliance and Chow's family had pleaded for help finding him earlier this week, fearing he would commit suicide.
Chow's family said the 56-year-old had been depressed, as he struggled to pay a $700,000 loan on his medallion, and medical bills for his wife, who was diagnosed in with Stage Four cancer last October.
The city has seen a spike in suicides among cab drivers because of the industry's financial problems, as the value of taxi medallions have plummeted with declining ridership due to the competition from ride-share services. As a result, many taxi drivers, who have taken out loans to pay for the once-sought-after taxi medallions, have been saddled with the debt.
The Taxi Workers Alliance has argued that the suicides could have been prevented if the city had regulated ride-share services like Uber and Lyft.
"All that we are asking for is to put a limit on the number of vehicles that are crowding the street, which has made it impossible for any driver to survive," Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the Taxi Workers Alliance, said at Chow's vigil.
A bill proposed in the city council would impose a yearly tax of $2,000 on drivers who work with services like Uber and Lyft. It would also limit drivers to working for only one company or app.
App-based drivers have slammed the tax as unaffordable, arguing that the proposed rules would create more delays and longer shifts.
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