Many Taxi drivers were already struggling under the cost of pricey medallions, and they say the coronavirus pandemic has made their economic pain even worse. Many of these drivers rallied outside Gracie Mansion in February and shut down the Brooklyn Bridge by parking their cabs on it.

The drivers are demanding debt relief for medallion loans.

“The drivers have financial debt. The city has a moral debt. They need to fix this,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Desai said the alliance’s proposal calls on lenders to reduce outstanding medallion loans to $125,000 and refinance payments, with the city acting as a backstop.

The group is also calling on Congress for help, rallying outside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer‘s Brooklyn home to get federal relief for drivers. Schumer released a statement in Feb. saying he stands with the taxi workers and is working hard to deliver financial aid to the city.

“There are few frontline workers who put in longer hours or suffer from more severe financial challenges than our taxi drivers,” Schumer said. “I stand with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance in their urgent mission to forge a financial lifeline for their hard-pressed members to restructure medallion debt, salvage their future retirement, and have a fair chance at earning a living wage for all of their many hours behind the wheel. I am fighting like hell right now to deliver robust local aid for New York City, send another round of direct payments to low- and middle-income New Yorkers, extend the pandemic unemployment assistance that has helped keep so many taxi drivers afloat, secure additional rent and mortgage relief, and more. We can – and should – honor the work of our taxi drivers by finding a way to make these drivers whole again.”

Source: CBS New York