At a raucous rally at City Hall Wednesday, owners of taxi medallions teed off on the mayor for allowing ride-hailing apps to take a huge bite out of the highly regulated cab industry. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
Mayor Bill de Blasio left City Hall on Wednesday to a cascade of jeers, as taxi medallion owners let de Blasio and other city officials have it during a boisterous rally, where they bemoaned the collapsing state of the yellow cab business and their once-solid investment in taxi medallions.
"With the help of the phony middle-class defenders, Bill de Blasio, Melissa Mark-Viverito, the annihilation of our hard work and assets is almost complete," said taxi medallion owner Sergio Cabrera.
Medallions that once fetched more than $1.1 million dollars are in free fall, with one selling for less than $250,000 in March.
The owners blame the surging popularity of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, and City Hall's failure to do anything about it.
Many cab owners say they are unable to pay off loans used to buy their medallions or that used the medallions as collateral, leaving them on the brink of financial ruin.
"Some of us are also under the threat of losing our homes and personal property as well," said Ricky Gill of the Taxi Medallion Owner Driver Association.
The medallion owners called for an "emergency meeting" with Governor Andrew Cuomo in hopes of getting a temporary moratorium on medallion foreclosures.
The number of foreclosures nearly quadrupled, from 10 in 2014 to 36 last year.
Whereas medallion owners once saw their investment as a path into the middle class, they now say it's leading nowhere but down.
"We have come from all over the world to better our life, in search of the American Dream. But instead, we're finding the American nightmare," said taxi medallion owner Nino Hervias.
"I never thought in my life this would happen here," said taxi medallion owner Nicolae Hent.
Hervias and William Guerra sued the city this week, seeking relief.
Guerra paid $83,000 for his medallion in 1984 but says he's so strapped now, he likely won't be able to retire.
"We pay for the right to pick up passengers in the city of New York. And the city is looking the other way, the commission, the mayor, the ex-mayor," Guerra said.
The city says it's trying to help the medallion industry, easing regulations and creating two apps enabling New Yorkers to summon cabs on their smartphones.