What to Know
- New York City taxi drivers have at least until the end of the month before congestion pricing fees go into effect
- The fees were initially scheduled go into effect Jan. 1, but got delayed because of lawsuit brought forth by taxi drivers, medallion owners
- Gov. Cuomo says the fee will help the congestion problem and fund the MTA and its desperate need to repair the subway
New York City taxi drivers have at least until the end of the month before congestion pricing fees go into effect.
Taxi drivers as well as the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission were in lower Manhattan Thursday morning for a hearing scheduled on the temporary restraining order blocking congestion pricing fees. A judge decided to extend the temporary restraining order on those surcharges until the end of the month.
The fees were initially scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, but got delayed because of the lawsuit brought forth by taxi drivers and medallion owners who are saying this plan would cause them even more of a financial hardship.
Chanting “What do we want? Justice!,” drivers and members of the Taxi Worker Alliance gathered to rally outside the court hearing Thursday morning. They say the state’s congestion fee is a “suicide surcharge” — a reference to, they say, the drivers who have committed suicide because of the financial struggle for medallion owners competing with ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft.
Gov. Cuomo says the fee will help the congestion problem and fund the MTA and its desperate need to repair the subway, but taxi drivers say there has to be a better way that doesn’t hurt them.
“Somebody has to see what we have been through,” taxi driver Nicolae Hand said, adding that the playing field is not leveled between TLC drivers and drivers for companies like Uber. “How can it be competition? Do they have this kind of fee?”
“How can I make a living here? What do they want from me? They want my heart? They want my kidney?” Hand continued in reference to what they say is the high fees for a medallion versus an Uber or Lyft.
However, according to the congesting pricing plan calls for a surcharge fee of $2.50 for a yellow cab ride and $2.75 for Uber or Lyft ride. The taxi industry says, though, that riders will take on that cost, which will drive down their business even more.
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.
The decision of the surcharge is expected at a hearing scheduled for the end of January.