Yellow cab drivers in New York City say they don't need a study to tell them what they already know: the drop in fares over the last six years has been devastating.
"You can see it every day. You can feel it, what going on," one driver said.
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) reported Thursday that total fares are down 44 percent since 2013, from $193,991,786 in March 2013 to $108,847,814 in March 2019.
This past March, yellow cabs earned, on average, roughly $9,100 ― a revenue drop of 36 percent over six years. The fares per medallion dropped from $14,432 in March 2013 to $9,127 in March 2019.
That has devastated owners like Placida Robinson, who bought her medallion in 2006. She's now in foreclosure and facing bankruptcy.
"I can't even get any relief, and I'm looking at a default judgment and I'll still owe the $1.2 million on the medallion while they take the medallion away," Robinson said. "That is what's happening to countless of other medallion owners. In a lot of cases, the medallion owners own homes and a lot of homes are foreclosed on as well."
Robinson blames the city. She said lawmakers failed to protect the cabbies, who have been facing a mountain of expenses, dwindling income, and the growth of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft.
"When the expenses outweigh the income, that spells instant foreclosure. And we have mortgages to pay, unlike Uber," Robinson said. "We have bank loans. $4,000 a month, in addition to all of these other congestion price tax that we have to turn over to the state, in addition to the commercial motor roadway tax, the medallion renewal licensing fines."
Bhairavi Desai, the president of the Taxi Workers Alliance, is calling on lawmakers to help turn around the yellow industry.
"We have been ringing the alarm," Desai said. "We have been testifying about the number of suicides that has been in this industry, the historic number of bankruptcies, and foreclosures, and just a level of economic desperation."
"This is a problem that can be fixed," Desai added. "This was a problem that was politically made; it can be fixed with proper regulations and laws.
The Taxi Workers Alliance and drivers plan to rally in Albany next month, calling on legislators to do away with the $2.50 congestion pricing surcharge, which went into effect a few months ago. They argue the surcharge is further killing their business.