NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced millions of dollars in financial relief for New York City’s troubled taxi industry, but drivers are protesting, saying much more help is needed to keep them on the road.
An angry crowd of taxi drivers descended on Gracie Mansion on Tuesday, issuing a scathing review of the city’s $65 million relief plan to help struggling cabbies.READ MORE: Drowning In Debt, Taxi Drivers Hold ‘Day Of Action,’ Shut Down Brooklyn Bridge And Rally Outside Of Gracie Mansion
“The problem is the Mayor is not addressing the core issue of the problem,” one speaker said.
As CBS2’s Christina Fan reports, drivers say the Taxi Medallion Driver-Owner Relief Fund falls short of the debt forgiveness they are seeking.
Instead, it uses stimulus money to offer $20,000 loans to help restructure medallion debt with an additional $9,000 in debt payment support.
The Taxi Workers Alliance called the plan a betrayal.
“It is a cash giveaway to the biggest lender in the industry and does absolutely nothing for the thousands of families that have been suffering and struggling,” said Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the Taxi Workers Alliance.
Drivers have been calling on lenders to reduce outstanding medallion loans to $125,000 with the city acting as a backstop.READ MORE: NYC Yellow Cab Drivers Demand Mayor De Blasio Deliver Much-Needed Debt Relief
The mayor responded to the union’s proposal and criticism, saying, “It’s really easy for folks to call for things that aren’t going to work and feel like, you know that sounds good.”
Watch Mayor de Blasio’s daily briefing —
Cabbies say the city’s solution means more financial ruin.
Richard Chow still owes more than $390,000 for his medallion.
His brother, who was also a taxi driver, died by suicide in 2018 because of overwhelming debt.
“We cannot take it anymore. We are suffering. We are devastated,” Chow said.
The union says they will be at Gracie Mansion daily from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. so the mayor can see and hear their struggle and understand that debt forgiveness is the only option.MORE NEWS: Taxi Drivers Caravan To Washington D.C. Seeking COVID Relief
CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report.