State Watch

New York City aiding taxi drivers after hunger strike

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After New York City taxi drivers staged a hunger strike demanding the city guarantee their loans, officials announced an expanded deal Wednesday to help drivers crippled by debt. 

The deal involved the Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents the city’s largest group of drivers, and Marblegate Asset Management, which holds the most loans.

Though its final price tag has not been determined, the city could spend over $100 million to eliminate hundreds of millions in driver debt, according to The New York Times

Per the agreement, Marblegate will reduce each driver’s debt down from an average of $500,000 to $170,000, the Times reported. Maximum monthly payments will also be lowered $1,122 per month.

The city will guarantee each loan in the event drivers default and will give the lender $30,000 per driver. Last month, workers from the Taxi Worker Alliance went on a hunger strike to demand the city’s guarantee, which was not in the earlier relief program.

The deal was announced on Wednesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), whose father-in-law was a cab driver in New York City, the Times noted.

“Taxi workers have worked tirelessly to make New York City the most vibrant city in the world, and we refuse to leave them behind,” the mayor said in his press release.

Schumer added that the deal was “desperately needed debt relief for hardworking taxi workers.”

All cab drivers who own their medallions — the tin plates on the hood of their cars that allow them to pick up street hails — are eligible under the agreement, regardless of their affiliation with the Taxi Worker Alliance. 

The debt crisis for drivers started roughly two decades ago, as medallion prices, which are regulated by the city, were artificially inflated and became devalued amid the rise of ride-hailing apps.

The Hill has reached out to the Taxi Worker Alliance for comment. 

Tags Bill de Blasio Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Hunger strike taxi Taxis of New York City

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