What to Know
- Taxi owner and driver Roy Kim died by suicide and was found on Nov. 5, a TLC spokesman said
- Kim was the eighth professional driver in New York City to have died by suicide this year
- In September, Uber driver Fausto Luna became the seventh professional driver to die by suicide when jumped in front of a subway train
A taxi owner and driver died by suicide and was found earlier this month — making him the eighth professional driver in New York City to have died by suicide this year, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission said.
Yellow cab driver and medallion owner Roy Kim was found dead on Nov. 5, TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said Wednesday.
In September, Uber driver Fausto Luna became the seventh professional driver to die by suicide when jumped in front of a subway train.
“We have suffered yet another devastating loss with the suicide of taxi owner/driver Roy Kim,” TLC Chair Meera Joshi said in a statement.
Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said Kim “worked six days a week [and] up to 14 hours a day.”
“Friends in his community of Korean yellow taxi drivers took him out to dinner to celebrate after he purchased his medallion in 2017,” Desai said in a statement. “Friends described Roy Kim as hardworking, quiet and dignified.”
“Owner-drivers have suffered a deep and vicious slide from the middle class into crushing poverty in just a few years,” Desai added.
Advocates say drivers are falling into despair because ride-hailing apps have flooded the city's streets with cars and made it difficult for drivers to earn a living.
New York's City Council approved a temporary cap on ride-hail licenses in August, but there are already more than 100,000 for-hire vehicles on the city's streets, up from 63,000 in 2015.
Advocates say the glut of cars forces drivers to compete for scarce fares. Meanwhile, the value of the medallions that are required to operate a yellow cab has plunged from more than $1 million to $200,000, forcing some medallion owners into bankruptcy.
In her statement, Joshi said Kim’s death “underscores the importance of finding new ways for government, the industry and lenders to work in unity to address the financial challenges that are weighing so heavily on our licensees.”
“Modifying, restructuring and lowering loans would go a long way in providing relief and keeping taxi services available to New Yorkers for years to come,” she said.
“We are heartened by the City Council’s substantive efforts, both past and pending, to help us support our licensees through this terribly difficult time.”